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Full text of "A Christmas carol"

^, A<r CHRISTMAS ^AROL S 



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LADING ROOM 



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itrated ♦bi^ 



.•fe^AKTIilUR ♦R.ACKHAM 



CHRISTMAS 
CAROL 

by 
Charles Dickens 



The immortal story ot 
Scrooge and Tiny Tim 



Illustrated by 
ARTHUR RACKHAM 



Printed in Great Britain 



$3.00 







Nj, PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH LIBRARIES 



3 3333 01781 1015 



MADIKG ROOM 



K CHRISTMAS CAROL 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2008 with funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



http://www.archive.org/details/christmascarOOdick 




'IIuzv iioiv'^'' said Scrooge, caustic and cold as t'i'cr. 
"What do you want with me?" 



A CHRIST/^^S CAROL 





•• 








BY 
CHARLES DICKENS 




%• 




## 







ILLUSTRATED BY 
ARTHUR RACKHAM 



PHILADELPHIA J. B. LIPPINCOTT Co 



PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN 



PROPERTY OF THE /• _, x^^ 

:^ . >> CITY OF mv YORK .' ^ " U8B7609 

PREFACE 

I have endeavoured in this Ghostly 
little book to raise the Ghost of an 
Idea which shall not put my 
readers out of humour with them- 
selves, with each other, with the 
season, or with me. May it haunt 
their house pleasantly, and no one 
wish to lay it. 

Their faithful Friend and Servant, 

CD. 

December, 1843. 



B 



CHARACTERS 

Bob Cratchlt, clerk to Ebenezer Scrooge. 

Peter Cratchit a son of the preceding. 

Tim Cratchit ("Tiny Tim"), a cripple, youngest son 

of Bob Cratchit. 
Mr. Fezziwig, a kind-hearted, jovial old merchant. 
Fred, Scrooge's nephew. 
Ghost of Christmas Past, a phantom showing things 

past. 
Ghost of Christmas Present, a spirit of a kind, generous, 

and hearty nature. 
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, an apparition show- 
ing the shadows of things which yet may happen. 
Ghost of Jacob Marley, a spectre of Scrooge's former 

partner in business. 
Joe, a marine-store dealer and receiver of stolen goods. 
Ebenezer Scrooge, a grasping, covetous old man, the 

surviving partner of the firm of Scrooge and 

Marley. 
Mr. Topper, a bachelor. 
Dick Wilkins, a fellow apprentice of Scrooge*s. 

Belle, a comely matron, an old sweetheart of Scrooge's. 
Caroline, wife of one of Scrooge's debtors. 
Mrs. Cratchit, wife of Bob Cratchit. 
Belinda and Martha Cratchit, daughters of the pre- 
ceding. 
Mrs. Dilber, a laundress. 
Fan, the sister of Scrooge. 
Mrs. Fezziwig, the worthy partner of Mr. Fezziwig. 

vii 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

IN COLOUR 



TO FACE PAGE 



" How now ? " said Scrooge, caustic 
and cold as ever. " What do you 
want with me ? " Frontispiece 

Bob Cratchit went down a slide on 
Cornhill, at the end of a lane of 
boys, twenty times, in honour of 
its being Christmas Eve i6 

Nobody under the bed ; nobody in 
the closet ; nobody in his dress- 
ing-gown, which was hanging up 
in a suspicious attitude against 
the wall 20 

The air was filled with phantoms, 
wandering hither and thither in 
restless haste and moaning as 
they went 3^ 

Then old Fezziwig stood out to 

dance with Mrs. Fezziwig 54 

A flushed and boisterous group 62 

Laden with Christmas toys and 

presents 64 

The way he went after that plump 

sister in the lace tucker ! 100 



X LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

In Colour — continued 



TO FACE PAGE 



" How are you ? " said one. 

" How are you ? " returned the other. 

" Well ! " said the ^ first. " Old 
Scratch has got his own at last, 
hey?" 114 

" What do you call this ? " said Joe. 
"Bed-curtains!" "Ah!" re- 
turned the woman, laughing. 
..." Bed-curtains ! " 

" You don't mean to say you took 
'em down, rings and all, with him 
lying there ? " said Joe. 

" Yes, I do," replied the woman. 

"Why not?" 120 

" It's I, your uncle Scrooge. I have 
come to dinner. Will you let 
me in, Fred ? " 144 

" Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," 
said Scrooge. " I am not going 
to stand this sort of thing any 
longer " 146 




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

IN BLACK AND WHITE 



Tailpiece 




vi 


Tailpiece to List of Coloured Illustrations 


X 


Tailpiece to List of Black and White 




Illustrations 




xi 


Heading to Stave One 




3 


They were portly gentlemen, 


pleasant 




to behold 




12 


On the wings of the wind 


28-29 


Tailpiece to Stave One 




34 


Heading to Stave Two 




37 


He produced a decanter of 


curiously 




light wine and a block of 


curiously 




heavy cake 




50 


She left him, and they parted 




60 


Tailpiece to Stave Two 




65 


Heading to Stave Three 




69 


There was nothing very cheerful in the 




climate 




75 


He had been Tim's blood-hors 


e all the 




way from church 


84-85 


With the pudding 




88 


Heading to Stave Four 




III 


Heading to Stave Five 




137 


Tailpiece to Stave Five 




147 




STAVE ONE 




MARLEY'S GHOST 



MARLEY was dead, to begin with. There is no 
doubt whatever about that. The register of his 
burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the 
undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed 
it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change 
for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old 
Marley was as dead as a door-nail. 

Mind ! I don't mean to say that I know of my own 
knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a 
door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to 
regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery 

3 



4 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in 
the simile ; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb 
it, or the country's done for. You will, therefore, 
permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was 
as dead as a door-nail. 

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. 
How could it be otherwise ? Scrooge and he were 
partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge 
was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole 
assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, and 
sole mourner. And even Scrooge was not so dread- 
fully cut up by the sad event but that he was an 
excellent man of business on the very day of the 
funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted 
bargain. 

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to 
the point I started from. There is no doubt that 
Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, 
or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going 
to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that 
Hamlet's father died before the play began, there 
would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a 
stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own 
ramparts, than there would be in any other middle- 
aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a 
breezy spot — say St. Paul's Churchyard, for instance 
— literally to astonish his son's weak mind. 



MARLEY'S GHOST 5 

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name. 
There it stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse 
door : Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as 
Scrooge and Marley. Sometimes people new to the 
business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley, 
but he answered to both names. It was all the same 
to him. 

Oh ! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grind- 
stone, Scrooge ! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, 
scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner ! Hard and 
sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out 
generous fire ; secret, and self-contained, and solitary 
as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old 
features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, 
stiffened his gait ; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue ; 
and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty 
rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his 
wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always 
about with him ; he iced his office in the dog-days, and 
didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas. 

External heat and cold had little influence on 
Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather 
chill him. No wind that blew was bitterer than he, 
no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, 
no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather 
didn't know where to have him. The heaviest rain, 
and snow, and hail, and sleet could boast of the advan- 



6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

tage over him in only one respect. They often * came 
down ' handsomely, and Scrooge never did. 

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with 
gladsome looks, ' My dear Scrooge, how are you ? 
When will you come to see me ? ' No beggars im- 
plored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him 
what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all 
his life inquired the way to such and such a place, of 
Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared to know 
him ; and, when they saw him coming on, would tug 
their owners into doorways and up courts ; and then 
would wag their tails as though they said, ' No eye at 
all is better than an evil eye, dark master ! ' 

But what did Scrooge care ? It was the very thing 
he liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of 
life, warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, 
was what the knowing ones call ' nuts ' to 
Scrooge. 

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year, 
on Christmas Eve — old Scrooge sat busy in his counting- 
house. It was cold, bleak, biting weather; foggy 
withal; and he could hear the people in the court 
outside go wheezing up and down, beating their hands 
upon their breasts, and stamping their feet upon the 
pavement stones to warm them. The City clocks had 
only just gone three, but it was quite dark already — it 
had not been light all day — and candles were flaring in 



MARLEY'S GHOST 7 

the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy 
smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came 
pouring in at every chink and keyhole, and was so 
dense without, that, although the court was of the 
narrowest, the houses opposite were mere phantoms. 
To see the dingy cloud come drooping down, obscuring 
everything, one might have thought that nature lived 
hard by, and was brewing on a large scale. 

The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open, 
that he might keep his eye upon his clerk, who in a 
dismal little cell beyond, a sort of tank, was copying 
letters. Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk's 
fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one 
coal. But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept 
the coal-box in his own room ; and so surely as the 
clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted 
that it would be necessary for them to part. Where- 
fore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to 
warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not 
being a man of strong imagination, he failed. 

* A merry Christmas, uncle ! God save you ! ' cried 
a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, 
who came upon him so quickly that this was the first 
intimation he had of his approach. 

' Bah ! ' said Scrooge. ' Humbug ! ' 

He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the 
fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge's, that he was all 



8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

in a glow ; his face was ruddy and handsome ; his 
eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again. 

' Christmas a humbug, uncle ! ' said Scrooge's 
nephew. ' You don't mean that, I am sure ? ' 

' I do,' said Scrooge. ' Merry Christmas ! What 
right have you to be merry ? What reason have you 
to be merry ? You're poor enough.' 

' Come, then,' returned the nephew gaily. ' What 
right have you to be dismal ? What reason have you 
to be morose ? You're rich enough.' 

Scrooge, having no better answer ready on the spur 
of the moment, said, ' Bah ! ' again ; and followed it up 
with ' Humbug ! ' 

' Don't be cross, uncle ! ' said the nephew. 

' What else can I be,' returned the uncle, * when I 
live in such a world of fools as this ? Merry Christmas ! 
Out upon merry Christmas ! What's Christmas-time 
to you but a time for paying bills without money ; a 
time for finding yourself a year older, and not an hour 
richer ; a time for balancing your books, and having 
every item in 'em through a round dozen of months 
presented dead against you ? If I could work my will,' 
said Scrooge indignantly, ' every idiot who goes about 
with " Merry Christmas " on his lips should be boiled 
with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly 
through his heart. He should ! ' 

* Uncle ! ' pleaded the nephew. 



MARLEY'S GHOST 9 

* Nephew ! ' returned the uncle sternly, ' keep 
Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in 
mine.' 

' Keep it ! ' repeated Scrooge's nephew. ' But you 
don't keep it.' 

' Let me leave it alone, then,' said Scrooge. * Much 
good may it do you ! Much good it has ever done 
you!' 

* There are many things from which I might have 
derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,' 
returned the nephew ; * Christmas among the rest. 
But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas- 
time, when it has come round — apart from the venera- 
tion due to its sacred name and origin, if anything 
belonging to it can be apart from that — as a good 
time ; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time ; the 
only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, 
when men and women seem by one consent to open 
their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people 
below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to 
the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on 
other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has 
never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I 
believe that it has done me good and will do me good ; 
and I say, God bless it ! ' 

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded. 
Becoming immediately sensible of the impropriety, he 



lo A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

poked the fire^ and extinguished the last frail spark for 
ever. 

* Let me hear another sound from you^ said Scrooge, 
* and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your 
situation ! You're quite a powerful speaker, sir,' he 
added, turning to his nephew. ' I wonder you don't 
go into ParUament.' 

' Don't be angry, uncle. Come ! Dine with us to- 
morrow.' 

Scrooge said that he would see him Yes, indeed 

he did. He went the whole length of the expression, 
and said that he would see him in that extremity first. 

* But why ? ' cried Scrooge's nephew. ' Why ? ' 

* Why did you get married ? ' said Scrooge. 
' Because I fell in love.' 

' Because you fell in love ! ' growled Scrooge, as if 
that were the only one thing in the world more 
ridiculous than a merry Christmas. * Good afternoon! ' 

' Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before 
that happened. Why give it as a reason for not 
coming now ? ' 

' Good afternoon,' said Scrooge. 

* I want nothing from you ; I ask nothing of you ; 
why cannot we be friends ? ' 

' Good afternoon ! ' said Scrooge. 

* I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so 
resolute. We have never had any quarrel to which I 



MARLEY'S GHOST ii 

have been a party. But I have made the trial in 
homage to Christmas, and I'll keep my Christmas 
humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle 1 ' 

' Good afternoon,' said Scrooge. 

' And A Happy New Year ! ' 

* Good afternoon ! ' said Scrooge. 

His nephew left the room without an angry word, 
notwithstanding. He stopped at the outer door to 
bestow the greetings of the season on the clerk, who, 
cold as he was, was warmer than Scrooge ; for he 
returned them cordially. 

' There's another fellow,' muttered Scrooge, who 
overheard him : ' my clerk, with fifteen shillings a 
week, and a wife and family, talking about a merry 
Christmas. I'll retire to Bedlam.' 

This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let 
two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, 
pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, 
in Scrooge's office. They had books and papers in 
their hands, and bowed to him. 

' Scrooge and Marley's, I believe,' said one of the 
gentlemen, referring to his list. * Have I the pleasure 
of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley ? ' 

' Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years,* 
Scrooge replied. ' He died seven years ago, this very 
night.' 

' We have no doubt his liberality is well represented 



12 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

by his surviving partner/ said the gentleman, present- 
ing his credentials. 

It certainly was ; for they had been two kindred 
spirits. At the ominous word ' liberality ' Scrooge 




THEY WERE PORTLY GENTLEMEN, PLEASANT TO BEHOLD 

frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials 
back. 

* At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,' 
said the gentleman, taking up a pen, * it is more than 
usually desirable that we should make some slight 



MARLEY'S GHOST 13 

provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly 
at the present time. Many thousands are in want of 
common necessaries ; hundreds of thousands are in 
want of common comforts, sir.' 

' Are there no prisons ? ' asked Scrooge. 

' Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down 
the pen again. 

* And the Union workhouses ? ' demanded Scrooge. 
* Are they still in operation ? ' 

' They are. Still,' returned the gentleman, ' I wish 
I could say they were not.' 

' The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, 
then ? ' said Scrooge. 

' Both very busy, sir.' 

' Oh ! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that 
something had occurred to stop them in their useful 
course,' said Scrooge. ' I am very glad to hear it.' 

' Under the impression that they scarcely furnish 
Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,' 
returned the gentleman, ' a few of us are endeavouring 
to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, 
and means of warmth. We choose this time, because 
it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, 
and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down 
for?' 

' Nothing ! ' Scrooge replied. 

* You wish to be anonymous ? ' 



14 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' I wish to be left alone,' said Scrooge. ' Since you 
ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I 
don't make merry myself at Christmas, and I can't 
afford to make idle people merry. I help to support 
the establishments I have mentioned — they cost enough: 
and those who are badly off must go there.' 

' Many can't go there ; and many would rather 
die.' 

' If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, ' they had 
better do it, and decrease the surplus population. 
Besides — excuse me — I don't know that.' 

' But you might know it,' observed the gentleman. 

* It's not my business,' Scrooge returned. ' It's 
enough for a man to understand his own business, and 
not to interfere with other people's. Mine occupies me 
constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen ! ' 

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue 
their point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge re- 
sumed his labours with an improved opinion of himself, 
and in a more facetious temper than was usual with 
him. 

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that 
people ran about with flaring links, proffering their 
services to go before horses in carriages, and conduct 
them on their way. The ancient tower of a church, 
whose gruff old bell was always peeping slily down at 
Scrooge out of a Gothic window in the wall, became 



MARLEY'S GHOST 15 

invisible, and struck the hours and quarters in the 
clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards, as if its 
teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. The 
cold became intense. In the main street, at the corner 
of the court, some labourers were repairing the gas- 
pipes, and had lighted a great fire in a brazier, round 
which a party of ragged men and boys were gathered : 
warming their hands and winking their eyes before the 
blaze in rapture. The water-plug being left in solitude, 
its overflowings suddenly congealed, and turned to 
misanthropic ice. The brightness of the shops, where 
holly sprigs and berries crackled in the lamp heat of 
the windows, made pale faces ruddy as they passed. 
Poulterers' and grocers' trades became a splendid joke : 
a glorious pageant, with which it was next to impossible 
to believe that such dull principles as bargain and sale 
had anything to do. The Lord Mayor, in the strong- 
hold of the mighty Mansion House, gave orders to his 
fifty cooks and butlers to keep Christmas as a Lord 
Mayor's household should ; and even the little tailor, 
whom he had fined five shillings on the previous 
Monday for being drunk and bloodthirsty in the 
streets, stirred up to-morrow's pudding in his garret, 
while his lean wife and the baby sallied out to buy the 
beef. 

Foggier yet, and colder ! Piercing, searching, biting 
cold. If the good St. Dunstan had but nipped the 



i6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Evil Spirit's nose with a touch of such weather as that, 
instead of using his famiUar weapons, then indeed he 
would have roared to lusty purpose. The owner of one 
scant young nose, gnawed and mumbled by the hungry 
cold as bones are gnawed by dogs, stooped down at 
Scrooge's keyhole to regale him with a Christmas 
carol ; but, at the first sound of 

' God bless you, merry gentleman, 
May nothing you dismay 1 * 

Scrooge seized the ruler with such energy of action 
that the singer fled in terror, leaving the keyhole to 
the fog, and even more congenial frost. 

At length the hour of shutting up the counting- 
house arrived. With an ill-will Scrooge dismounted 
from his stool, and tacitly admitted the fact to the 
expectant clerk in the tank, who instantly snuffed his 
candle out, and put on his hat. 

' You'll want all day to-morrow, I suppose ? ' said 
Scrooge. 

' If quite convenient, sir.' 

' It's not convenient,' said Scrooge, ' and it's not 
fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you'd think 
yourself ill used, I'll be bound ? ' 

The clerk smiled faintly. 

' And yet,' said Scrooge, * you don't think me ill 
used when I pay a day's wages for no work.' 








WWW' 



J 
/ 




Bob CratcJiit went dozvn a slide on CornhiU, at the end of a lane 
of boys, twenty times, in honour of its being Christmas Eve 



MARLEY'S GHOST 17 

The clerk observed that it was only once a year. 

* A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every 
twenty-fifth of December ! ' said Scrooge, buttoning 
his greatcoat to the chin. * But I suppose you must 
have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next 
morning.' 

The clerk promised that he would; and Scrooge 
walked out with a growl. The office was closed in a 
twinkling, and the clerk, with the long ends of his 
white comforter dangling below his waist (for he 
boasted no greatcoat), went down a slide on Cornhill, 
at the end of a lane of boys, twenty times, in honour 
of its being Christmas Eve, and then ran home to 
Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to play at 
blindman's-buflf. 

Scrooge took his melancholy dinner in his usual 
melancholy tavern; and having read all the news- 
papers, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his 
banker's book, went home to bed. He lived in 
chambers which had once belonged to his deceased 
partner. They were a gloomy suite of rooms, in a 
lowering pile of building up a yard, where it had so 
little business to be, that one could scarcely help 
fancying it must have run there when it was a young 
house, playing at hide-and-seek with other houses, and 
have forgotten the way out again. It was old enough 
now, and dreary enough ; for nobody lived in it but 



i8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Scrooge, the other rooms being all let out as offices. 
The yard was so dark that even Scrooge, who knew its 
every stone, was fain to grope with his hands. The 
fog and frost so hung about the black old gateway 
of the house, that it seemed as if the Genius of the 
Weather sat in mournful meditation on the threshold. 

Now, it is a fact that there was nothing at all 
particular about the knocker on the door, except that 
it was very large. It is also a fact that Scrooge had 
seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence 
in that place ; also that Scrooge had as little of what is 
called fancy about him as any man in the City of 
London, even including — which is a bold word — the 
corporation, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be 
borne in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one 
thought on Marley since his last mention of his seven- 
years'-dead partner that afternoon. And then let any 
man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that 
Scrooge, having his key in the lock of the door, saw 
in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate 
process of change — not a knocker, but Marley's face. 

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow- 
as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal 
light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It 
was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as 
Marley used to look ; with ghostly spectacles turned 
up on its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously 



MARLEY'S GHOST 19 

stirred, as if by breath or hot air ; and, though the 
eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. 
That, and its livid colour, made it horrible ; but its 
horror seemed to be in spite of the face, and beyond its 
control, rather than a part of its own expression. 

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it 
was a knocker again. 

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was 
not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had 
been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But 
he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, 
turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle. 

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before 
he shut the door ; and he did look cautiously behind 
it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the 
sight of Marley's pigtail sticking out into the hall. 
But there was nothing on the back of the door, except 
the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he 
said, * Pooh, pooh ! ' and closed it with a bang. 

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. 
Every room above, and every cask in the wine- 
merchant's cellars below, appeared to have a separate 
peal of echoes of its own. Scrooge was not a man to 
be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and 
walked across the hall, and up the stairs : slowly, too : 
trimming his candle as he went. 

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach and six 



20 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

up a good old flight of stairs, or through a bad young 
Act of ParUament ; but I mean to say you might have 
got a hearse up that staircase, and taken it broadwise, 
with the spHnter-bar towards the wall, and the door 
towards the balustrades : and done it easy. There 
was plenty of width for that, and room to spare ; which 
is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thought he saw a 
locomotive hearse going on before him in the gloom. 
Half-a-dozen gas-lamps out of the street wouldn't have 
lighted the entry too well, so you may suppose that it 
was pretty dark with Scrooge's dip. 

Up Scrooge went, not caring a button for that. 
Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But, before 
he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms 
to see that all was right. He had just enough re- 
collection of the face to desire to do that. 

Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber-room. All as they 
should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the 
sofa ; a small fire in the grate ; spoon and basin 
ready ; and the little saucepan of gruel (Scrooge had a 
cold in his head) upon the hob. Nobody under the 
bed ; nobody in the closet ; nobody in his dressing- 
gown, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude 
against the wall. Lumber-room as usual. Old fire- 
guard, old shoes, two fish baskets, washing-stand on 
three legs, and a poker. 

Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself 




"v>>«r-y x;iicN»-«p— ' ^''^ ^ '- - .. -,,. 



Nobody under the bed ; nobody in the closet ; nobody in his dressing- 
gow7t, zvhich was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall 



MARLEY'S GHOST 21 

in ; double locked himself in, which was not his 
custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his 
cravat; put on his dressing-gown and sUppers, and 
his nightcap ; and sat down before the fire to take his 
gruel. 

It was a very low fire indeed ; nothing on such a 
bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and 
brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation 
of warmth from such a handful of fuel. The fire- 
place was an old one, built by some Dutch merchant 
long ago, and paved all round with quaint Dutch tiles, 
designed to illustrate the Scriptures. There were 
Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters. Queens of 
Sheba, Angelic messengers descending through the 
air on clouds like feather-beds, Abrahams, Belshazzars, 
Apostles putting off to sea in butter-boats, hundreds of 
figures to attract his thoughts ; and yet that face of 
Marley, seven years dead, came like the ancient 
Prophet's rod, and swallowed up the whole. If each 
smooth tile had been a blank at first, with power to 
shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed 
fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a 
copy of old Marley's head on every one. 

* Humbug ! ' said Scrooge ; and walked across the 
room. 

After several turns he sat down again. As he threw 
his head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest 



22 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

upon a bell, a disused bell, that hung in the room, and 
communicated, for some purpose now forgotten, with a 
chamber in the highest storey of the building. It was 
with great astonishment, and with a strange, inex- 
plicable dread, that, as he looked, he saw this bell begin 
to swing. It swung so softly in the outset that it 
scarcely made a sound ; but soon it rang out loudly, 
and so did every bell in the house. 

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, 
but it seemed an hour. The bells ceased, as they had 
begun, together. They were succeeded by a clanking 
noise deep down below as if some person were drag- 
ging a heavy chain over the casks in the wine-merchant's 
cellar. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that 
ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging 
chains. 

The cellar door flew open with a booming sound, and 
then he heard the noise much louder on the floors 
below ; then coming up the stairs ; then coming 
straight towards his door. 

' It's humbug still ! ' said Scrooge. ' I won't believe 
it.' 

His colour changed, though, when, without a pause, 
it came on through the heavy door and passed into the 
room before his eyes. Upon its coming in^, the dying 
flame leaped up, as though it cried, * i know him ! 
Mafley's Ghost ! ' and fell again. 



MARLEY'S GHOST 23 

The same face : the very same. Marley in his pig- 
tail, usual waistcoat, tights, and boots; the tassels on 
the latter bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, 
and the hair upon his head. The chain he drew was 
clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound 
about him like a tail ; and it was made (for Scrooge 
observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, 
ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel. His 
body was transparent : so that Scrooge, observing 
him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the 
two buttons on his coat behind. 

Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no 
bowels, but he had never believed it until now. 

No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he 
looked the phantom through and through, and saw it 
standing before him ; though he felt the chilling 
influence of its death-cold dyes, and marked the very 
texture of the folded kerchief bound about its head 
and chin, which wrapper he had not observed before, 
he was still incredulous, and fought against his senses. 

* How now ! ' said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever. 
' What do you want with me ? * 

* Much ! * — Marley*s voice ; no doubt about it. 

* Who are you ? ' 

* Ask me who I was.^ 

* Who were you, then ? ' said Scrooge, raising his 
foice. * You're particular, for a shade.' He was 



24 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

going to say ' to a shade/ but substituted this, as more 
appropriate. 

' In life I v/as your partner, Jacob Marley.' 

' Can you — can you sit down ? ' asked Scrooge, 
looking doubtfully at him. 

' I can.' 

*^ Do it, then.' 

Scrooge asked the question, because he didn't know 
iv^hether a ghost so transparent' might find himself in a 
condition to take a chair ; and felt that in the event of 
its being impossible, it might involve the necessity of 
an embarrassing explanation. But the Ghost sat down 
on the opposite side of the fireplace, as if he were quite 
used to it. 

' You don't believe in me,' observed the Ghost. 

* I don't,' said Scrooge. 

' What evidence would you have of my reality beyond 
that of your own senses ? ' 

* I don't know,' said Scrooge. 

' Why do you doubt your senses ? ' 

* Because,' said Scrooge, ' a little thing aflfects them. 
A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. 
You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, 
a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. 
There's more of gravy than of grave about you, what- 
ever you are ! ' 

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes. 



MARLEY'S GHOST 25 

nor did he feel in his heart by any means waggish then. 
The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of 
distracting his own attention, and keeping down his 
terror ; for the spectre's voice disturbed the very 
marrow in his bones. 

To sit staring at those fixed, glazed eyes in silence, 
for a moment, would play, Scrooge felt, the very deuce 
with him. There was something very awful, too, in 
the spectre's being provided with an infernal atmo- 
sphere of his own. Scrooge could not feel it himself, 
but this was clearly the case ; for though the Ghost sat 
perfectly motionless, its hair, and skirts, and tassels 
were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an 
oven. 

' You see this toothpick ? ' said Scrooge, returning 
quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned ; 
and wishing, though it were only for a second, to 
divert the vision's stony gaze from himself. 

' I do,' replied the Ghost. 

' You are not looking at it,' said Scrooge. 

' But I see it,' said the Ghost, ' notwithstanding.' 

* Well ! ' returned Scrooge, ' I have but to swallow 
this, and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a 
legion of goblins, all of my own creation. Humbug, 
I tell you : humbug ! ' 

At this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook 
its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that 



26 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Scrooge held on tight to his chair, to save himself from 
falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his 
horror when the phantom, taking off the bandage 
round his head, as if it were too warm to wear indoors, 
its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast ! 

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands 
before his face. 

' Mercy ! ' he said. * Dreadful apparition, why do 
you trouble me ? ' 

' Man of the worldly mind ! ' replied the Ghost, ' do 
you believe in me or not ? ' 

' I do,' said Scrooge ; ' I must. But why do spirits 
walk the earth, and why do they come to me ? ' 

' It is required of every man,' the Ghost returned, 
* that the spirit within him should walk abroad among 
his fellow-men, and travel far and wide ; and, if that 
spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do 
so after death. It is doomed to wander through the 
world — oh, woe is me ! — and witness what it cannot 
share, but might have shared on earth, and turned 
to happiness ! ' 

Again the spectre raised a cry, and shook its chain 
and wrung its shadowy hands. 

' You are fettered,' said Scrooge, trembling. ' Tell 
me why ? ' 

' I wear the chain I forged in life,' replied the Ghost. 
' I made it link by link, and yard by yard ; I girded it 



MARLEY'S GHOST 27 

on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore 
it. Is its pattern strange to you ? ' 

Scrooge trembled more and more. 

* Or would you know,' pursued the Ghost, ' the 
weight and length of the strong coil you bear your- 
self ? It was full as heavy and as long as this seven 
Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it since. 
It is a ponderous chain ! ' 

Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the ex- 
pectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or 
sixty fathoms of iron cable ; but he could see nothing. 

' Jacob ! ' he said imploringly. ' Old Jacob Marley, 
tell me more ! Speak comfort to me, Jacob ! ' 

' I have none to give,' the Ghost replied. ' It comes 
from other regions, Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed 
by other ministers, to other kinds of men. Nor can I 
tell you what I would. A very little more is all per- 
mitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot 
linger anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond our 
counting-house — mark me ; — in life my spirit never 
roved beyond the narrow limits of our money-changing 
hole ; and weary journeys lie before me ! ' 

It was a habit with Scrooge, whenever he became 
thoughtful, to put his hands in his breeches pockets. 
Pondering on what the Ghost had said, he did so now, 
but without lifting up his eyes, or getting off his 
knees. 




ON THE WINGS OF THE WIND 



MARLEY'S GHOST 



29 



' You must have been very slow about it, Jacob/ 
Scrooge observed in a business-like manner, though 
with humility and deference. 

* Slow ! ' the Ghost repeated. 

* Seven years dead/ mused Scrooge, 
ling all the time ? ' 

* The whole time,' said the Ghost, 
peace. Incessant torture of remorse.' 

* You travel fast ? ' said Scrooge. 

' On the wings of 

the wind/ replied the 
Ghost. 



*And travel- 
*No rest, no 




30 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' You might have got over a great quantity of 
ground in seven years,' said Scrooge. 

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, 
and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence 
of the night, that the Ward would have been justified 
in indicting it for a nuisance. 

' Oh ! captive, bound, and double-ironed,' cried the 
phantom, ' not to know that ages of incessant labour, 
by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into 
eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all 
developed ! Not to know that any Christian spirit 
working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, 
will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of 
usefulness ! Not to know that no space of regret can 
make amends for one life's opportunities misused ! 
Yet such was I ! Oh, such was I ! ' 

' But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' 
faltered Scrooge, who nowbegan to apply this to himself. 

' Business ! ' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands 
again. ' Mankind was my business. The common 
welfare was my business ; charity, mercy, forbearance, 
and benevolence were, all, my business. The dealings 
of my trade were but a drop of water in the compre- 
hensive ocean of my business ! ' 

It held up its chain at arm's-length, as if that were 
the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily 
upon the ground again. 



MARLEY'S GHOST 31 

* At this time of the roUing year,' the spectre said, 
' I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of 
fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never 
raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men 
to a poor abode ? Were there no poor homes to which 
its light would have conducted me ? ' 

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the 
spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake 
exceedingly. 

' Hear me ! ' cried the Ghost. ' My time is nearly gone.- 

' I will,' said Scrooge. ' But don't be hard upon me ! 
Don't be flowery, Jacob ! Pray ! ' 

' How it is that I appear before you in a shape that 
you can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible 
beside you many and many a day.' 

It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and 
wiped the perspiration from his brow. 

' That is no light part of my penance,' pursued the 
Ghost. ' I am here to-night to warn you that you have 
yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance 
and hope of my procuring, Ebenezer.' 

' You were always a good friend to me,' said Scrooge. 
' Thankee ! ' 

' You will be haunted,' resumed the Ghost, ' by 
Three Spirits.' 

Scrooge's countenance fell almost as low as the 
Ghost's had done. 



32 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' Is that the chance and hope you mentioned. 
Jacob ? ' he demanded in a fahering voice. 
' It is.' 

* I — I think I'd rather not,' said Scrooge. 

* Without their visits,' said the Ghost, ' you cannot 
hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to- 
morrow when the bell tolls One.' 

' Couldn't I take 'em all at once, and have it over, 
Jacob ? ' hinted Scrooge. 

' Expect the second on the next night at the same 
hour. The third, upon the next night when the last 
stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see 
me no more ; and look that, for your own sake, you 
remember what has passed between us ! ' 

When it had said these words, the spectre took its 
wrapper from the table, and bound it round its head as 
before. Scrooge knew this by the smart sound its 
teeth made when the jaws were brought together by 
the bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again, and 
found his supernatural visitor confronting him in an 
erect attitude, with its chain wound over and about its 
arm. 

The apparition walked backward from him; and, 
at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, 
so that, when the spectre reached it, it was wide open. 
It beckoned Scrooge to approach, which he did. 
When they were within two paces of each other. 




The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in 
restless haste and moaning as they went 



MARLEY'S GHOST 33 

Marley's Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come 
no nearer. Scrooge stopped. 

Not so much in obedience as in surprise and fear ; 
for, on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of 
confused noises in the air ; incoherent sounds of 
lamentation and regret ; wailings inexpressibly sorrow- 
ful and self-accusatory. The spectre, after listening 
for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge; and 
floated out upon the bleak, dark night. 

Scrooge followed to the window : desperate in his 
curiosity. He looked out. 

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither 
and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they 
went. Every one of them wore chains like Marley's 
Ghost ; some few (they might be guilty governments) 
were linked together ; none were free. Many had 
been personally known to Scrooge in their lives. He 
had been quite familiar with one old ghost in a white 
waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe attached to its 
ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist 
a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw 
below upon a doorstep. The misery with them 
all was clearly, that they sought to interfere, for 
good, in human matters, and had lost the power for 
ever. 

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist 
enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and 



34 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

their spirit voices faded together ; and the night 
became as it had been when he walked home. 

Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door 
by which the Ghost had entered. It was double 
locked, as he had locked it with his own hands, and the 
bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say ' Humbug ! ' 
but stopped at the first syllable. And being, from the 
emotions he had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, 
or his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull 
conversation of the Ghost, or the lateness of the hour, 
much in need of repose, went straight to bed without 
undressing, and fell asleep upon the instant. 




STAVE TWO 




THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 

WHEN Scrooge awoke it was so dark, that, looking 
out of bed, he could scarcely distinguish the 
transparent window from the opaque walls of his 
chamber. He was endeavouring to pierce the darkness 
with his ferret eyes, when the chimes of a neighbour- 
ing church struck the four quarters. So he listened 
for the hour. 

To his great astonishment, the heavy bell went on 
from six to seven, and from seven to eight, and regu- 
larly up to twelve ; then stopped. Twelve ! It was 
past two when he went to bed. The clock was v^ong. 
An icicle must have got into the works. Twelve ! 

He touched the spring of his repeater, to correct this 
most preposterous clock. Its rapid little pulse beat 
twelve, and stopped. 

37 D 



38 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' Why, it isn't possible/ said Scrooge, ' that I can 
have slept through a whole day and far into another 
night. It isn't possible that anything has happened 
to the sun, and this is twelve at noon ! ' 

The idea being an alarming one, he scrambled out of 
bed, and groped his way to the window. He was 
obliged to rub the frost off with the sleeve of his dress- 
ing-gown before he could see anything ; and could see 
very little then. All he could make out was, that it 
was still very foggy and extremely cold, and that there 
was no noise of people running to and fro, and making 
a great stir, as there unquestionably would have been 
if night had beaten off bright day, and taken possession 
of the world. This was a great relief, because ' Three 
days after sight of this First of Exchange pay to Mr. 
Ebenezer Scrooge or his order,' and so forth, would 
have become a mere United States security if there 
were no days to count by. 

Scrooge went to bed again, and thought, and thought, 
and thought it over and over, and could make nothing 
of it. The more he thought, the more perplexed he 
was ; and, the more he endeavoured not to think, the 
more he thought. 

Marley's Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every 
time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, 
that it was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like 
a strong spring released, to its first position, and pre- 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 39 

sented the same problem to be worked all through, 
' Was it a dream or not ? ' 

Scrooge lay in this state until the chime had gone 
three-quarters more, when he remembered, on a 
sudden, that the Ghost had warned him of a visitation 
when the bell tolled one. He resolved to lie awake 
until the hour was passed ; and, considering that he 
could no more go to sleep than go to heaven, this was, 
perhaps, the wisest resolution in his power. 

The quarter was so long, that he was more than once 
convinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously, 
and missed the clock. At length it broke upon his 
listening ear. 

' Ding, dong ! ' 

' A quarter past,' said Scrooge, counting. 

' Ding, dong ! ' 

' Half past,' said Scrooge. 

' Ding, dong ! ' 

* A quarter to it,' said Scrooge. 

* Ding, dong ! ' 

* The hour itself,' said Scrooge triumphantly, * and 
nothing else ! ' 

He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now 
did with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light 
flashed up in the room upon the ins'iant, and the 
curtains of his bed were drawn. 

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, 



40 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the 
curtains at his back, but those to which his face was 
addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside ; 
and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent atti- 
tude, found himself face to face with the unearthly 
visitor who drew them : as close to it as I am now to 
you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow. 

It was a strange figure — like a child ; yet not so like 
a child as like an old man, viewed through some super- 
natural medium, which gave him the appearance of 
having receded from the view, and being diminished 
to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about 
its neck and down its back, was white, as if with age ; 
and yet the face had not a v/rinkle in it, and the 
tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very 
long and muscular ; the hands the same, as if its hold 
were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most 
deHcately formed, were, like those upper members, 
bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white ; and round 
its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which 
was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly 
in its hand ; and, in singular contradiction of that 
wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer 
flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that 
from the crown of its head there sprang a bright clear 
jet of light, by which all this was visible ; and which 
was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 41 

moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now 
held under its arm. 

Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with 
increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. 
For, as its belt sparkled and glittered, now in one part 
and now in another, and what was light one instant at 
another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in 
its distinctness ; being now a thing with one arm, now 
with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs 
without a head, now a head without a body : of which 
dissolving parts no outline would be visible in the 
dense gloom wherein they melted away. And, in the 
very wonder of this, it would be itself again ; distinct 
and clear as ever. 

' Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold 
to me ? ' asked Scrooge. 

* I am ! ' 

The voice was soft and gentle. Singularly low, as 
if, instead of being so close behind him, it were at 
a distance. 

' Who and what are you ? ' Scrooge demanded. 

' I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.' 

' Long Past ? ' inquired Scrooge, observant of its 
dwarfish stature. 

* No. Your past.' 

Perhaps Scrooge could not have told anybody why, 
if anybody could have asked him ; but he had a special 



42 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

desire to see the Spirit in his cap, and begged him to 
be covered. 

* What ! ' exclaimed the Ghost, ' would you so soon 
put out, with worldly hands, the light I give ? Is 
it not enough that you are one of those whose passions 
made this cap, and force me through whole trains of 
years to wear it low upon my brow ? ' 

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend 
or any knowledge of having wilfully ' bonneted ' the 
Spirit at any period of his life. He then made bold to 
inquire what business brought him there. 

* Your welfare ! ' said the Ghost. 

Scrooge expressed himself much obliged, but could 
not help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would 
have been more conducive to that end. The Spirit 
must have heard him thinking, for it said imme- 
diately — 

' Your reclamation, then. Take heed ! ' 

It put out its strong hand as it spoke, and clasped 
him gently by the arm. 

' Rise ! and walk with me ! ' 

It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that 
the weather and the hour were not adapted to pedes- 
trian purposes ; that bed was warm, and the ther- 
mometer a long way below freezing ; that he was clad 
but lightly in his slippers, dressing-gown, and night- 
cap ; and that he had a cold upon him at that time. The 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 43 

grasp, though gentle as a woman's hand, was not to 
be resisted. He rose ; but, finding that the Spirit 
made towards the window, clasped its robe in sup- 
plication. 

' I am a mortal,' Scrooge remonstrated, ' and liable 
to fall.' 

' Bear but a touch of my hand there,'' said the Spirit, 
laying it upon his heart, ' and you shall be upheld in 
more than this ! ' 

As the words were spoken, they passed through the 
wall, and stood upon an open country road, with fields 
on either hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not 
a vestige of it was to be seen. The darkness and the 
mist had vanished with it, for it was a clear, cold, 
winter day, with snow upon the ground. 

' Good Heaven ! ' said Scrooge, clasping his hands 
together, as he looked about him. ' I was bred in this 
place. I was a boy here ! ' 

The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch, 
though it had been light and instantaneous, appeared 
still present to the old man's sense of feeling. He was 
conscious of a thousand odours floating in the air, each 
one connected with a thousand thoughts, and hopes, 
and joys, and cares long, long forgotten ! 

' Your lip is trembling,' said the Ghost. * And what 
is that upon your cheek ? ' 

Scrooge muttered, with an unusual catching in his 



44 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

voice, that it was a pimple ; and begged the Ghost to 
lead him where he would. 

' You recollect the way ? ' inquired the Spirit. 

' Remember it ! ' cried Scrooge with fervour ; * I 
could walk it blindfold.' 

' Strange to have forgotten it for so many years ! ' 
observed the Ghost. ' Let us go on.' 

They walked along the road, Scrooge recognising 
every gate, and post, and tree, until a little market- 
town appeared in the distance, with its bridge, its 
church, and winding river. Some shaggy ponies now 
were seen trotting towards them with boys upon their 
backs, who called to other boys in country gigs and 
cans, driven by farmers. All these boys were in great 
spirits, and shouted to each other, until the broad fields 
were so full of merry music, that the crisp air laughed 
to hear it. 

' These are but shadows of the things that have 
been,' said the Ghost. ' They have no consciousness of 
us.' 

The jocund travellers came on ; and as they came, 
Scrooge knew and named them every one. Why was 
he rejoiced beyond all bounds to see them ? Why did 
his cold eye gHsten, and his heart leap up as they went 
past ? Why was he filled with gladness when he heard 
them give each other Merry Christmas, as they parted 
at cross-roads and by-ways for their several homes ? 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 45 

What was merry Christmas to Scrooge ? Out upon 
merry Christmas ! What good had it ever done to him ? 

* The school is not quite deserted,' said the Ghost. 
* A sohtary child, neglected by his friends, is left there 
still.' 

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed. 

They left the high-road by a well-remembered lane 
and soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with 
a little weather-cock surmounted cupola on the roof, 
and a bell hanging in it. It was a large house, but one 
of broken fortunes ; for the spacious offices were little 
used, their walls were damp and mossy, their windows 
broken, and their gates decayed. Fowls clucked and 
strutted in the stables ; and the coach-houses and sheds 
were overrun with grass. Nor was it more retentive 
of its ancient state within ; for, entering the dreary 
hall, and glancing through the open doors of many 
rooms, they found them poorly furnished, cold, and 
vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a chilly 
bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow 
with too much getting up by candle light and not too 
much to eat. 

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to 
a door at the back of the house. It opened before them, 
and disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made 
barer still by lines of plain deal forms and desks. At 
one of these a lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire ; 



46 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

and Scrooge sat down upon a form, and wept to see his 
poor forgotten self as he had used to be. 

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squeak and 
scuffle from the mice behind the panelling, not a drip 
from the half-thawed waterspout in the dull yard 
behind, not a sigh among the leafless boughs of one 
despondent poplar, not the idle swinging of an empty 
storehouse door, no, not a clicking in the fire, but fell 
upon the heart of Scrooge with softening influence, and 
gave a freer passage to his tears. 

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to 
his younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a 
man in foreign garments, wonderfully real and distinct 
to look at, stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in 
his belt, and leading by the bridle an ass laden with wood. 

' Why, it's Ali Baba ! ' Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. 
' It's dear old honest Ali Baba ! Yes, yes, I know. 
One Christmas-time, when yonder solitary child was 
left here all alone, he did come, for the first time, just 
like that. Poor boy ! And Valentine,' said Scrooge, 
* and his wild brother, Orson ; there they go ! And 
what's his name, who was put down in his drawers, 
asleep, at the gate of Damascus ; don't you see him ? 
And the Sultan's Groom turned upside down by the 
Genii ; there he is upon his head ! Serve him right ! 
I'm glad of it. What business had he to be married to 
the Princess ? ' 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 47 

To hear Scrooge expending all the earnestness of his 
nature on such subjects, in a most extraordinary voice 
between laughing and crying ; and to see his heightened 
and excited face ; would have been a surprise to his 
business friends in the City, indeed. 

' There's the Parrot ! ' cried Scrooge. ' Green body 
ar,d yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing out 
of the top of his head ; there he is ! Poor Robin Crusoe 
he called him, when he came home again after sailing 
round the island. " Poor Robin Crusoe, where have 
you been, Robin Crusoe ? " The man thought he was 
dreaming, but he wasn't. It was the Parrot, you 
know. There goes Friday, running for his life to the 
Httle creek ! Halloa ! Hoop ! Halloo ! ' 

Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his 
usual character, he said, in pity for his former self, 
' Poor boy ! ' and cried again. 

' I wish,' Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his 
pocket, and looking about him, after drying his eyes 
with his cuff; ' but it's too late now.' 

' What is the matter ? ' asked the Spirit. 

' Nothing,' said Scrooge. ' Nothing. There was a 
boy singing a Christmas carol at my door last night. I 
should like to have given him something : that's 
all.' 

The Ghost smiled thoughtfully, and waved its hand, 
saying as it did so, ' Let us see another Christmas ! ' 



48 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Scrooge's former self grew larger at the words, and 
the room became a little darker and more dirty. The 
panels shrunk, the windows cracked; fragments of 
plaster fell out of the ceiling, and the naked laths were 
shown instead; but how all this was brought about 
Scrooge knew no more than you do. He only knew 
that it was quite correct ; that everything had happened 
so ; that there he was, alone again, when all the other 
boys had gone home for the jolly hoHdays. 

He was not reading now, but walking up and down 
despairingly. Scrooge looked at the Ghost, and, with 
a mournful shaking of his head, glanced anxiously 
towards the door. 

It opened ; and a little girl, much younger than the 
boy, came darting in, and, putting her arms about his 
neck, and often kissing him, addressed him as her 
* dear, dear brother.' 

' I have come to bring you home, dear brother ! ' said 
the child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending down 
to laugh. ' To bring you home, home, home ! ' 

' Home, little Fan ? ' returned the boy. 

' Yes ! ' said the child, brimful of glee. ' Home for 
good and all. Home for ever and ever. Father is so 
much kinder than he used to be, that home's like 
heaven ! He spoke so gently to me one dear night 
when I was going to bed, that I was not afraid to ask 
him once more if you might come home ; and he said 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 49 

Yes, you should ; and sent me in a coach to bring you. 
And you're to be a man ! ' said the child, opening her 
eyes ; * and are never to come back here ; but first 
we're to be together all the Christmas long, and have 
the merriest time in all the world.' 

'You are quite a woman, little Fan ! 'exclaimed the boy. 

She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to 
touch his head; but, being too little laughed again, 
and stood on tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began 
to drag him, in her childish eagerness, towards the 
door ; and he, nothing loath to go, accompanied her. 

A terrible voice in the hall cried, ' Bring down 
Master Scrooge's box, there ! ' and in the hall appeared 
the schoolmaster himself, who glared on Master 
Scrooge with a ferocious condescension, and threw him 
into a dreadful state of mind by shaking hands with 
him. He then conveyed him and his sister into the 
veriest old well of a shivering best parlour that ever 
was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the 
celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were 
waxy -vith cold. Here he produced a decanter of 
curiously light wine, and a block of curiously heavy 
cake, and administered instalments of those dainties to 
the young people; at the same time sending out a 
meagre servant to offer a glass of ' something ' to the 
postboy, who answered that he thanked the gentleman, 
but, if it was the same tap as he had tasted before, he 



50 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 



had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by this 
time tied on to the top of the chaise, the children bade 
the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly; and. 




HE PRODUCED A DECANTER OF CURIOUSLY LIGHT WINE, AND A BLOCK 
OF CURIOUSLY HEAVY CAKE 



getting into it, drove gaily down the garden sweep ; 
the quick wheels dashing the hoar-frost and snow from 
off the dark leaves of the evergreens like spray. 
* Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 51 

have withered/ said the Ghost. ' But she had a large 
heart ! ' 

* So she had/ cried Scrooge. * You're right. I will 
not gainsay it. Spirit. God forbid ! ' 

' She died a woman/ said the Ghost, * and had, as 
I think, children.' 

* One child,' Scrooge returned. 

* True,' said the Ghost. ' Your nephew ! ' 
Scrooge seemed uneasy in his mind, and answered 

briefly, ' Yes.' 

Although they had but that moment left the school 
behind them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares 
of a city, where shadowy passengers passed and re- 
passed ; where shadowy carts and coaches battled for 
the way, and all the strife and tumult of a real city 
were. It was made plain enough, by the dressing of 
the shops, that here, too, it was Christmas-time 
again; but it was evening, and the streets were lighted up. 

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and 
asked Scrooge if he knew it. 

' Know it ! ' said Scrooge. ' Was I apprenticed 
here ? ' 

They went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a 
Welsh wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he 
had been two inches taller, he must have knocked his 
head against the ceiling, Scrooge cried in great 
excitement — 



52 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' Why, it's old Fezziwig ! Bless his heart, it's 
Fezziwig alive again ! ' 

Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at 
the clock, which pointed to the hour of seven. He 
rubbed his hands ; adjusted his capacious waistcoat ; 
laughed all over himself, from his shoes to his organ of 
benevolence ; and called out, in a comfortable, oily, 
rich, fat, jovial voice — 

' Yo ho, there ! Ebenezer ! Dick ! ' 

Scrooge's former self, now grown a young man, 
came briskly in, accompanied by his fellow- 'prentice. 

' Dick Wilkins, to be sure ! ' said Scrooge to the 
Ghost. ' Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very 
much attached to me, was Dick. Poor Dick ! Dear, 
dear ! ' 

' Yo ho, my boys ! ' said Fezziwig. * No more work 
to-night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer! 
Let's have the shutters up,' cried old Fezziwig, with a 
sharp clap of his hands, ' before a man can say Jack 
Robinson ! ' 

You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at 
it ! They charged into the street with the shutters — 
one, two, three — had 'em up in their places — four, five, 
six — barred 'em and pinned 'em — seven, eight, nine — 
and came back before you could have got to twelve, 
panting like racehorses. 

* Hilli-ho ! ' cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 53 

the high desk with wonderful agility. ' Clear away, 
my lads, and let's have lots of room here ! Hilli-ho, 
Dick ! Chirrup, Ebenezer ! ' 

Clear away ! There was nothing they wouldn't 
have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with 
old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. 
Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed 
from public life for evermore ; the floor was swept 
and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped 
upon the fire ; and the warehouse was as snug, and 
warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room as you would 
desire to see upon a winter's night. 

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to 
the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned 
like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, 
one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss 
Fezziwigs, beaming and lovable. In came the six 
young followers whose hearts they broke. In came 
all the young men and women employed in the business. 
In came the housemaid, with her cousin the baker. 
In came the cook with her brother's particular friend 
the milkman. In came the boy from over the way, 
who was suspected of not having board enough from 
his master; trying to hide himself behind the girl 
from next door but one, who was proved to have had 
her ears pulled by her mistress. In they all came, one 
after another ; some shyly, some boldly, some grace- 



54 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

fully, some awkwardly, some pushing, some pulling ; 
in they all came, any how and every how. Away they 
all went, twenty couple at once ; hands half round 
and back agair the other way ; down the middle and 
up again ; round and round in various stages of 
affectionate grouping ; old top couple always turning 
up in the wrong place ; new top couple starting off 
again as soon as they got there ; all top couples at 
last, and not a bottom one to help them ! When 
this result was brought about, old Fezziwig, clapping 
his hands to stop the dance, cried out, ' Well done ! ' 
and the fiddler plunged his hot face into a pot of porter, 
especially provided for that purpose. But, scorning 
rest upon his reappearance, he instantly began again, 
though there were no dancers yet, as if the other 
fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter, 
and he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out 
of sight, or perish. 

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and 
more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, 
and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there 
was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince- 
pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the 
evening can.e after the Roast and Boiled, when the 
fiddler (an artful dog, mind ! The sort of man who 
knew his business better than you or I could have told 
it him !) struck up ' Sir Roger de Coverley.' Then old 







W-4i^l 




Then old Fezzizvig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezzizvig 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 55 

Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top 
couple, too ; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for 
them ; three or four and twenty pair of partners ; 
people who were not to be trifled with ; people who 
would dance, and had no notion of walking. 

But if they had been twice as many — ah ! four times 
— old Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and 
so would Mrs. Fezziwig. As to her^ she was worthy to 
be his partner in every sense of the term. If that's not 
high praise, tell me higher, and I'll use it. A positive 
light appeared to issue from Fezziwig's calves. They 
shone in every part of the dance like moons. You 
couldn't have predicted, at any given time, what would 
become of them next. And when old Fezziwig and 
Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance ; advance 
and retire, both hands to your partner, bow and 
curtsy, cork-screw, thread-the-needle, and back again 
to your place : Fezziwig ' cut ' — cut so deftly, that he 
appeared to wink with his legs, and came upon his feet 
again without a stagger. 

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball 
broke up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, 
one on either side the door, and, shaking hands with 
every person individually as he or she went out, wished 
him or her a Merry Christmas. When everybody had 
retired but the two 'prentices, they did the same to 
them ; and thus the cheerful voices died away, and the 



56 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

lads were left to their beds ; which were under a 
counter in the back-shop. 

During the whole of this time Scrooge had acted like 
a man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the 
scene, and with his former self. He corroborated 
everything, remembered everything, enjoyed every- 
thing, and underwent the strangest agitation. It was 
not until now, when the bright faces of his former self 
and Dick were turned from them, that he remembered 
the Ghost, and became conscious that it was looking 
full upon him, while the light upon its head burnt very 
clear. 

* A small matter,' said the Ghost, ' to make these 
silly folks so full of gratitude.' 

* Small ! ' echoed Scrooge. 

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two appren- 
tices, who were pouring out their hearts in praise of 
Fezziwig ; and when he had done so, said : 

' Why ! Is it not ? He has spent but a few pounds 
of your mortal money : three or four, perhaps. Is that 
so much that he deserves this praise ? ' 

' It isn't that,' said Scrooge, heated by the remark, 
and speaking unconsciously like his former, not his 
latter self. ' It isn't that. Spirit. He has the power 
to render us happy or unhappy ; to make our service 
light or burdensome ; a pleasure or a toil. Say that 
his power lies in words and looks ; in things so slight 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 57 

and insignificant that it is impossible to add and count 
'em up : what then ? The happiness he gives is quite 
as great as if it cost a fortune.' 

He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped. 

' What is the matter ? ' asked the Ghost. 

' Nothing particular,' said Scrooge. 

' Something, I think ? ' the Ghost insisted. 

' No,' said Scrooge, ' no. I should like to be able 
to say a word or two to my clerk just now. That's all.' 

His former self turned down the lamps as he gave 
utterance to the wish ; and Scrooge and the Ghost 
again stood side by side in the open air. 

' My time grows short,' observed the Spirit. 
' Quick ! ' 

This was not addressed to Scrooge, or to any one 
whom he could see, but it produced an immediate effect. 
For again Scrooge saw himself. He was older now ; a 
man in the prime of life. His face had not the harsh 
and rigid lines of later years ; but it had begun to wear 
the signs of care and avarice. There was an eager, 
greedy, restless motion in the eye, which showed the 
passion that had taken root, and where the shadow of 
the growing tree would fall. 

He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young 
girl in a mourning dress : in whose eyes there were 
tears, which sparkled in the light that shone out of the 
Ghost of Christmas Past. 



58 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' It matters little/ she said softly. ' To you, very 
little. Another idol has displaced me ; and, if it 
can cheer and comfort you in time to come as I would 
have tried to do, I have no just cause to grieve.' 

' What Idol has displaced you ? ' he rejoined. 

' A golden one.' 

' This is the even-handed dealing of the world ! ' he 
said. ' There is nothing on which it is so hard as 
poverty ; and there is nothing it professes to condemn 
with such severity as the pursuit of wealth ! ' 

' You fear the world too much,' she answered gently. 
' All your other hopes have merged into the hope of 
being beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I 
have seen your nobler aspirations fall off one by one, 
until the master passion. Gain, engrosses you. Have 
I not ? ' 

' What then ? ' he retorted. ' Even if I have grown 
so much wiser, what then ? I am not changed towards 
you.' 

She shook her head. 

* Am I ? ' 

' Our contract is an old one. It was made when we 
were both poor, and content to be so, until, in good 
season, we could improve our worldly fortune by our 
patient industry. You are changed. When it was 
made you were another man.' 

' I was a boy,' he said impatiently. 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 59 

* Your own feeling tells you that you were not what 
you are,' she returned. ' I am. That which promised 
happiness when we were one in heart is fraught with 
misery now that we are two. How often and how 
keenly I have thought of this I will not say. It is 
enough that I have thought of it, and can release you.' 

* Have I ever sought release ? ' 

* In words. No. Never.' 
' In what, then ? ' 

' In a changed nature ; in an altered spirit ; in 
another atmosphere of life ; another Hope as its great 
end. In everything that made my love of any worth 
or value in your sight. If this had never been between 
us,' said the girl, looking mildly, but with steadiness, 
upon him ; ' tell me, would you seek me out and try to 
win me now ? Ah, no ! ' 

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition 
in spite of himself. But he said, with a struggle, ' You 
think not.' 

* I would gladly think otherwise if I could,' she 
answered. ' Heaven knows ! When / have learned a 
Truth like this, I know how strong and irresistible it 
must be. But if you were free to-day, to-morrow, 
yesterday, can even I believe that you would choose a 
dowerless girl — you who, in your very confidence with 
her, weigh everything by Gain : or, choosing her, if 
for a moment you were false enough to your one 



6o 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 



guiding principle to do so, do I not know that your 
repentance and regret would surely follow ? I do ; 
and I release you. With a full heart, for the love of 
him you once were.' 




SHE LEFT HIM, AND THEY PAHTED 



He was about to speak ; but, with her head turned 
from him, she resumed : 

' You may — the memory of what is past half makes 
me hope you will — have pain in this. A very, very 
brief time, and you will dismiss the recollection of 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 6i 

it gladly, as an unprofitable dream, from which it 
happened well that you awoke. May you be happy 
in the life you have chosen ! ' 

She left him, and they parted. 

' Spirit ! ' said Scrooge, ' show me no more ! Con- 
duct me home. Why do you delight to torture me ? ' 

' One shadow more ! ' exclaimed the Ghost. 

* No more ! ' cried Scrooge. * No more ! I don't 
wish to see it. Show me no more ! ' 

But the relentless Ghost pinioned him in both his 
arms, and forced him to observe what happened next. 

They were in another scene and place ; a room, not 
very large or handsome, but full of comfort. Near to 
the winter fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like that 
last that Scrooge believed it was the same, until he saw 
her^ now a comely matron, sitting opposite her daughter. 
The noise in this room was perfectly tumultuous, for 
there were more children there than Scrooge in his 
agitated state of mind could count ; and, unlike the 
celebrated herd in the poem, they were not forty 
children conducting themselves like one, but every 
child was conducting itself like forty. The con- 
sequences were uproarious beyond belief ; but no one 
seemed to care; on the contrary, the mother and 
daughter laughed heartily, and enjoyed it very much ; 
and the latter, soon beginning to mingle in the sports, 
got pillaged by the young brigands most ruthlessly. 



62 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

What would I not have given to be one of them ! 
Though I never could have been so rude, no, no ! I 
wouldn't for the wealth of all the world have crushed 
that braided hair, and torn it down ; and for the 
precious little shoe, I wouldn't have plucked it off, 
God bless my soul ! to save my life. As to measuring 
her waist in sport, as they did, bold young brood, 
I couldn't have done it ; I should have expected my 
arm to have grown round it for a punishment, and 
never come straight again. And yet I should have 
dearly liked, I own, to have touched her lips ; to have 
questioned her, that she might have opened them ; to 
have looked upon the lashes of her downcast eyes, and 
never raised a blush ; to have let loose waves of hair, 
an inch of which would be a keepsake beyond price : in 
short, I should have liked, I do confess, to have had 
the lightest license of a child, and yet to have been man 
enough to know its value. 

But now a knocking at the door was heard, and such 
a rush immediately ensued that she, with laughing face 
and plundered dress, was borne towards it the centre 
of a flushed and boisterous group, just in time to greet 
the father, who came home attended by a man laden 
with Christmas toys and presents. Then the shouting 
and the struggling, and the onslaught that was made on 
the defenceless porter ! The scaling him, with chairs 
for ladders, to dive into his pockets, despoil him of 




A flushed and boisterous group 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 63 

brown-paper parcels, hold on tight by his cravat, hug 
him round his neck, pummel his back, and kick his 
legs in irrepressible affection ! The shouts of wonder 
and delight with which the development of every pack- 
age was received ! The terrible announcement thai: 
the baby had been taken in the act of putting a doll's 
frying pan into his mouth, and was more than suspected 
of having swallowed a fictitious turkey, glued on a 
wooden platter ! The immense relief of finding this a 
false alarm ! The joy, and gratitude, and ecstasy ! 
They are all indescribable alike. It is enough that, by 
degrees, the children and their emotions got out of the 
parlour, and, by one stair at a time, up to the top of the 
house, where they went to bed, and so subsided. 

And now Scrooge looked on more attentively than 
ever, when the master of the house, having his daughter 
leaning fondly on him, sat down with her and her 
mother at his own fireside ; and when he thought that 
such another creature, quite as graceful and as full 
of promise, might have called him father, and been a 
spring-time in the haggard winter of his life, his sight 
grew very dim indeed. 

' Belle,' said the husband, turning to his wife with 
a smile, ' I saw an old friend of yours this afternoon.' 

' Who was it ? ' 

' Guess ! ' 

^ How can I ? Tut, don't I know ? ' she added in 



64 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

the same breath, laughing as he laughed. ' Mr. 
Scrooge.' 

' Mr. Scrooge it was. I passed his office window ; 
and as it was not shut up, and he had a candle inside, I 
could scarcely help seeing him. His partner lies upon 
the point of death, I hear ; and there he sat alone. 
Quite alone in the world, I do believe.' 

' Spirit ! ' said Scrooge in a broken voice, ' remove 
me from this place.' 

' I told you these were shadows of the things that 
have been,' said the Ghost. ' That they are what they 
are do not blame me ! ' 

' Remove me ! ' Scrooge exclaimed, ' I cannot bear 
it!' 

He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing that it looked 
upon him with a face, in which in some strange way 
there were fragments of all the faces it had shown him, 
wrestled with it. 

' Leave me ! Take me back. Haunt me no 
longer ! ' 

In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in 
which the Ghost with no visible resistance on its own 
part was undisturbed by any effort of its adversary, 
Scrooge observed that its light was burning high and 
bright ; and dimly connecting that with its influence 
over him, he seized the extinguisher-cap, and by a 
sudden action pressed it down upon its head. 







Laden zvith Christmas toys and presents 



THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS 65 

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extin- 
guisher covered its whole form ; but though Scrooge 
pressed it down with all his force, he could not hide 
the light, which streamed from under it, in an un- 
broken flood upon the ground. 

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome 
by an irresistible drowsiness ; and, further, of being in 
his own bedroom. He gave the cap a parting squeeze, 
in which his hand relaxed ; and had barely time to reel 
to bed, before he sank into a heavy sleep. 




STAVE THREE 




THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 



AWAKING in the middle of a prodigiously tough 
snore, and sitting up in bed to get his thoughts to- 
gether, Scrooge had no occasion to be told that the bell 
was again upon the stroke of One. He felt that he was 
restored to consciousness in the right nick of time, for 
the especial purpose of holding a conference with the 
second messenger despatched to him through Jacob 
Marley's intervention. But finding that he turned 
uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which of 
his curtains this new spectre would draw back, he put 
them every one aside with his own hands, and, lying 
down again, established a sharp look-out all round the 
bed. For he wished to challenge the Spirit on the 
moment of its appearance, and did not wish to be taken 
by surprise and made nervous. p 



60 



70 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume 
themselves on being acquainted with a move or two^ 
and being usually equal to the time of day, express the 
wide range of their capacity for adventure by observing 
that they are good for anything from pitch-and-toss to 
manslaughter ; between which opposite extremes, no 
doubt, there lies a tolerably wide and comprehensive 
range of subjects. Without venturing for Scrooge 
quite as hardily as this, I don't mind calling on you to 
believe that he was ready for a good broad field of 
strange appearances, and that nothing between a baby 
and a rhinoceros would have astonished him very 
much. 

Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was 
not by any means prepared for nothing ; and con- 
sequently, when the bell struck One, and no shape 
appeared, he was taken with a violent fit of trembling. 
Five minutes, ten minutes, a quarter of an hour went 
by, yet nothing came. All this time he lay upon his 
bed, the very core and centre of a blaze of ruddy light, 
which streamed upon it when the clock proclaimed 
the hour ; and which, being only light, was more 
alarming than a dozen ghosts, as he was powerless 
to make out what it meant, or would be at ; and was 
sometimes apprehensive that he might be at that very 
moment an interesting case of spontaneous combustion, 
without having the consolation of knowing it. At last. 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 71 

however, he began to think — as you or I would have 
thought at first ; for it is always the person not in the 
predicament who knows what ought to have been done 
in it, and would unquestionably have done it too — at 
last, I say, he began to think that the source and secret 
of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room, 
from whence, on further tracing it, it seemed to shine. 
This idea taking full possession of his mind, he got up 
softly, and shuffled in his slippers to the door. 

The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock a 
strange voice called him by his name, and bade him 
enter. He obeyed. 

It was his own room. There was no doubt about 
that. But it had undergone a surprising transforma- 
tion. The walls and ceiling were so hung with living 
green, that it looked a perfect grove ; from every part 
of which bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp 
leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the 
light, as if so many little mirrors had been scattered 
there ; and such a mighty blaze went roaring up the 
chimney as that dull petrification of a hearth had never 
known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many and 
many a winter season gone. Heaped up on the floor, 
to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, 
poultry, brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long 
wreaths ol sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, 
barrels of oysters, red-hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked 



72 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

apples, juicy oranges, luscious pears, immense twelfth- 
cakes, and seething bowls of punch, that made the 
chamber dim with their delicious steam. In easy state 
upon this couch there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see ; 
who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's 
horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge 
as he came peeping round the door. 

' Come in ! ' exclaimed the Ghost. ' Come in ! and 
know me better, man ! ' 

Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before 
this Spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had 
been ; and though the Spirit's eyes were clear and 
kind, he did not like to meet them. 

* I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,' said the 
Spirit. ' Look upon me ! ' 

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one 
simple deep green robe, or mantle, bordered with white 
fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that 
its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be 
warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observ- 
able beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also 
bare ; and on its head it wore no other covering than a 
holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. 
Its dark-brown curls were long and free ; free as its 
genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery 
voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. 
Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 73 

but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was 
eaten up with rust. 

* You have never seen the like of me before ! ' 
exclaimed the Spirit. 

' Never/ Scrooge made answer to it. 

' Have never walked forth with the younger members 
of my family ; meaning (for I am very young) my 
elder brothers born in these later years ? ' pursued the 
Phantom. 

' I don't think I have,' said Scrooge. ' I am afraid 
I have not. Have you had many brothers. Spirit ? ' 

* More than eighteen hundred,' said the Ghost. 

' A tremendous family to provide for,' muttered 
Scrooge. 

The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. 

' Spirit,' said Scrooge submissively, ' conduct me 
where you will. I went forth last night on compulsion, 
and I learned a lesson which is working now. To- 
night if you have aught to teach me, let me profit by 
it.' 

' Touch my robe ! ' 

Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast. 

Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkeys, geese, 
game, poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausages, oysters, 
pies, puddings, fruit, and punch, all vanished instantly. 
So did the room, the fire, the ruddy glow, the hour of 
night, and they stood in the city streets on Christmas 



74 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

morning, where (for the weather was severe) the people 
made a rough, but brisk and not unpleasant kind of 
music, in scraping the snow from the pavement in front 
of their dwellings, and from the tops of their houses, 
whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come 
plumping down into the road below, and splitting into 
artificial little snowstorms. 

The house-fronts looked black enough, and the 
windows blacker, contrasting with the smooth white 
sheet of snow upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow 
upon the ground ; which last deposit had been ploughed 
up in deep furrows by the heavy wheels of carts and 
waggons : furrows that crossed and recrossed each 
other hundreds of times where the great streets 
branched off; and made intricate channels, hard to 
trace in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The 
sky was gloomy, and the shortest streets were choked 
up with a dingy mist, half thawed, half frozen, whose 
heavier particles descended in a shower of sooty atoms, 
as if all the chimneys in Great Britain had, by one 
consent, caught fire, and were blazing away to their 
dear heart's content. There was nothing very cheerful 
in the climate or the town, and yet was there an air of 
cheerfulness abroad that the clearest summer air and 
brightest summer sun might have endeavoured to 
diffuse in vain. 

For the people who were shovelling away on the 




THERE WAS NOTHIMG VERY CHEBRFUJ, IN THE CUMATE 



76 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

house-tops were jovial and full of glee ; calling out to 
one another from the parapets, and now and then 
exchanging a facetious snowball — better-natured mis- 
sile far than many a wordy jest — laughing heartily if it 
went right, and not less heartily if it went wrong. 
The poulterers' shops were still half open, and the 
fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were 
great, round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped 
like the waistcoats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at 
the doors, and tumbling out into the street in their 
apoplectic opulence: There were ruddy, brown-faced, 
broad-girthed Spanish onions, shining in the fatness of 
their growth like Spanish friars, and winking from 
their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they went 
by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. 
There were pears and apples clustered high in bloom- 
ing pyramids ; there were bunches of grapes, made, in 
the shopkeepers' benevolence, to dangle from con- 
spicuous hooks that people's mouths might water gratis 
as they passed ; there were piles of filberts, mossy and 
brown, recalling, in their fragrance, ancient walks 
among the woods, and pleasant shufflings ankle deep 
through withered leaves ; there were Norfolk Biffins, 
squab and swarthy, setting ofF the yellow of the oranges 
and lemons, and, in the great compactness of their 
juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be 
carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner. 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 77 

The very gold and silver fish, set forth among these 
choice fruits in a bowl, though members of a dull and 
stagnant-blooded race, appeared to know that there 
was something going on ; and, to a fish, went gasping 
round and round their little world in slow and passion- 
less excitement. 

The Grocers' ! oh, the Grocers' ! nearly closed, 
with perhaps two shutters down, or one ; but through 
those gaps such glimpses ! It was not alone that the 
scales descending on the counter made a merry sound, 
or that the twine and roller parted company so briskly, 
or that the canisters were rattled up and down like 
juggling tricks, or even that the blended scents of tea 
and coffee were so grateful to the nose, or even that 
the raisins were so plentiful and rare, the almonds so 
extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon so long and 
straight, the other spices so delicious, the candied fruits 
so c^ed and spotted with molten sugar as to make the 
coldest lookers-on feel faint, and subsequently bilious. 
Nor was it that the figs were moist and pulpy, or that 
the French plums blushed in modest tartness from their 
highly-decorated boxes, or that everything was good to 
eat and in its Christmas dress ; but the customers were 
all so hurried and so eager in the hopeful promise of 
the day, that they tumbled up against each other at the 
door, crashing their wicker baskets wildly, and left 
their purchases upon the counter, and came running 



78 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

back to fetch them, and committed hundreds of the 
like mistakes, in the best humour possible ; while the 
grocer and his people were so frank and fresh, that 
the polished hearts with which they fastened their 
aprons behind might have been their own, worn outside 
for general inspection, and for Christmas daws to peck 
at if they chose. 

But soon the steeples called good people all to church 
and chapel, and away they came, flocking through the 
streets in their best clothes and with their gayest faces. 
And at the same time there emerged, from scores of 
by-streets, lanes, and nameless turnings, innumerable 
people, carrying their diimers to the bakers' shops. 
The sight of these poor revellers appeared to interest 
the Spirit very much, for he stood with Scrooge beside 
him in a baker's doorway, and, taking off the covers as 
their bearers passed, sprinkled incense on their dinners 
from his torch. And it was a very uncommon kind of 
torch, for once or twice, when there were angry words 
between some dinner-carriers who had jostled each 
other, he shed a few drops of water on them from it, 
and their good-humour was restored directly. For 
they said, it was a shame to quarrel upon Christmas 
Day. And so it was ! God love it, so it was ! 

In time the bells ceased, and the bakers were shut 
up ; and yet there was a genial shadowing forth of all 
these dinners^ and the progress of their cooking, in the 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 79 

thawed blotch of wet above each baker's oven, where 
the pavement smoked as if its stones were cooking too. 
' Is there a pecuUar flavour in what you sprinkle 
from your torch ? ' asked Scrooge. 

* There is. My own.' 

* Would it apply to any kind of dinner on this day ? ' 
asked Scrooge. 

' To any kindly given. To a poor one most.' 

* Why to a poor one most ? ' asked Scrooge. 
' Because it needs it most.' 

* Spirit ! ' said Scrooge, after a moment's thought^ 
* I wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds 
about us, should desire to cramp these people's 
opportunities of innocent enjoyment.' 

' I ! ' cried the Spirit. 

* You would deprive them of their means of dining 
every seventh day, often the only day on which they 
can be said to dine at all,' said Scrooge ; ' wouldn't 
you?' 

' I ! ' cried the Spirit. 

* You seek to close these places on the Seventh 
Day,' said Scrooge. ' And it comes to the same thing.* 

' I seek ! ' exclaimed the Spirit. 

* Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in 
your name, or at least in that of your family,' said 
Scrooge. 

' There are some upon this earth of vourS;>' returned 



8o A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

the Spirit, ' who lay claim to know us, and who do 
their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, 
bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange 
to us, and all our kith and kin, as if they had never 
lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on 
themselves, not us.' 

Scrooge promised that he would ; and they went on, 
invisible, as they had been before, into the suburbs of 
the town. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost 
(which Scrooge had observed at the baker's), that not- 
withstanding his gigantic size, he could accommodate 
himself to any place with ease ; and that he stood 
beneath a low roof quite as gracefully and like a 
supernatural creature as it was possible he could have 
done in any lofty hall. 

And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit 
had in showing off this power of his, or else it was 
his own kind, generous, hearty nature, and his sym- 
pathy with all poor men, that led him straight to 
Scrooge's clerk's ; for there he went, and took Scrooge 
with him, holding to his robe ; and on the threshold 
of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless Bob 
Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinklings of his torch. 
Think of that ! Bob had but fifteen ' Bob ' a week 
himself; he pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies 
of his Christian name ; and yet the Ghost of Christmas 
Present blessed his four-roomed house ! 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 8i 

Then up rose Mrs. Cratchit, Cratchit's wife, dressed 
out but poorly in a twice-turned gown, but brave in 
ribbons, which are cheap, and make a goodly show for 
sixpence ; and she laid the cloth, assisted by Belinda 
Cratchit, second of her daughters, also brave in 
ribbons ; while Master Peter Cratchit plunged a fork 
into the saucepan of potatoes, and getting the corners 
of his monstrous shirt-collar (Bob's private property, 
conferred upon his son and heir in honour of the day, 
into his mouth, rejoiced to find himself so gallantly 
attired, and yearned to show his linen in the fashion- 
able Parks. And now two smaller Cratchits, boy and 
girl, came tearing in, screaming that outside the baker's 
they had smelt the goose, and known it for their own ; 
and basking in luxurious thoughts of sage and onion, 
these young Cratchits danced about the table, and 
exalted Master Peter Cratchit to the skies, while he 
(not proud, although his collars nearly choked him) 
blew the fire, until the slow potatoes, bubbling up, 
knocked loudly at the saucepan-lid to be let out and 
peeled. 

' What has ever got your precious father, then ? ' 
said Mrs. Cratchit. ' And your brother. Tiny Tim ? 
And Martha warn't as late last Christmas Day by half 
an hour ! ' 

* Here's Martha, mother ! ' said a girl, appearing as 
she spoke. 



82 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' Here's Martha, mother ! ' cried the two young 
Cratchits. ' Hurrah ! There's such a goose, Martha ! ' 

' Why, bless your heart aUve, my dear, how late 
you are ! ' said Mrs. Cratchit, kissing her a dozen 
times, and taking off her shawl and bonnet for her with 
officious zeal. 

' We'd a deal of work to finish up last night,' replied 
the girl, ' and had to clear away this morning, 
mother ! ' 

' Well ! never mind so long as you are come,' said 
Mrs. Cratchit. ' Sit ye down before the fire, my dear, 
and have a warm, Lord bless ye ! ' 

' No, no ! There's father coming,' cried the two 
young Cratchits, who were everywhere at once. 
' Hide, Martha, hide ! ' 

So Martha hid herself, and in came little Bob, the 
father, with at least three feet of comforter, exclusive 
of the fringe, hanging down before him, and his 
threadbare clothes darned up and brushed to look 
seasonable, and Tiny Tim upon his shoulder. Alas 
for Tiny Tim, he bore a little crutch, and had his 
limbs supported by an iron frame ! 

* Why, Where's our Martha ? ' cried Bob Cratchit, 
looking round. 

' Not coming,' said Mrs. Cratchit. 

' Not coming ! ' said Bob, with a sudden declension 
in his high spirits ; for he had been Tim's blood-horse 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 83 

all the way from church, and had come home rampant. 
* Not coming upon Christmas Day ! ' 

Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were 
only in joke ; so she came out prematurely from 
behind the closet door, and ran into his arms, while 
the two young Cratchits hustled Tiny Tim, and bore 
him off into the wash-house, that he might hear the 
pudding singing in the copper. 

' And how did little Tim behave ? ' asked Mrs. 
Cratchit when she had ralHed Bob on his credulity, 
and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart's 
content. 

* As good as gold,' said Bob, ' and better. Some- 
how, he gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, 
and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He 
told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw 
him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it 
might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas 
Day who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.' 

Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, 
and trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was 
growing strong and hearty. 

His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, 
and back came Tiny Tim before another word was 
spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool 
beside the fire ; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs — 
as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made 



84 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

more shabby — compounded some hot mixture in a jug 
with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round, 
and put it on the hob to simmer. Master Peter and the 




two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the 
goose, with which they soon returned in high pro- 
cession. 

Such a bustle ensued that you might have thought 
a goose the rarest of all birds ; a feathered pheno- 
menon, to which a black swan was a matter of course 
— and, in truth, it was something very like it in that 
house. Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready before- 
hand in a little saucepan) hissing hot ; Master Peter 
mashed the potatoes with incredible vigour ; Miss 
Belinda sweetened up the apple sauce ; Martha dusted 
the hot plates ; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a 
tiny corner at the table ; the two young Cratchits set 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 85 

chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and, 
mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into 
their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before 




IIE HAD BEEN TIM'S BLOOD-HORSE ALL THE WAY FROM CHURCH 



86 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

their turn came to be helped. At last the dishes were 
set on, and grace was said. It was succeeded by a 
breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit, looking slowly all 
along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it in the 
breast ; but when she did, and when the long-expected 
gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight 
arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited 
by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with 
the handle of his knife and feebly cried Hurrah ! 

There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't 
believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its 
tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the 
themes of universal admiration. Eked out by apple 
sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner 
for the whole family ; indeed, as Mrs. Cratchit said 
with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone 
upon the dish), they hadn't ate it all at last ! Yet 
every one had had enough, and the youngest Cratchits, 
in particular, were steeped in sage and onion to the 
eyebrows ! But now, the plates being changed by 
Miss Belinda, Mrs. Cratchit left the room alone — too 
nervous to bear witnesses — to take the pudding up, 
and bring it in. 

Suppose it should not be done enough ! Suppose it 
should break in turning out ! Suppose somebody 
should have got over the wall of the back-yard an4 
stolen it, while they were merry with the goose — a 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 87 

supposition at which the two young Cratchits became 
livid ! All sorts of horrors were supposed. 

Hallo ! A great deal of steam ! The pudding was 
out of the copper. A smell like a washing-day ! That 
was the cloth. A smell like an eating-house and a 
pastry-cook's next door to each other, with a laun- 
dress's next door to that ! That was the pudding ! 
In half a minute Mrs. Cratchit entered — flushed, but 
smiling proudly — with the pudding, like a speckled 
cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in half of half- 
a-quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Christ- 
mas holly stuck into the top. 

Oh, a wonderful pudding ! Bob Cratchit said, and 
calmly too, that he regarded it as the greatest success 
achieved by Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. 
Cratchit said that, now the weight was off her mind, 
she would confess she had her doubts about the 
quantity of flour. Everybody had something to say 
about it, but nobody said or thought it was at all a 
small pudding for a large family. It would have been 
flat heresy to do so. Any Cratchit would have blushed 
to hint at such a thing. 

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, 
the hearth swept, and the fire made up. The com- 
pound in the jug being tasted, and considered perfect, 
apples and oranges were put upon the table, and a 
shovel full of chestnuts on the fire. Then all the 




WITH THE PUDDING 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 89 

Cratchit family drew round the hearth in what Bob 
Cratchit called a circle, meaning half a one; and at 
Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the family display of glass. 
Two tumblers and a custard cup without a 
handle. 

These held the hot stuff from the jug, however, as 
well as golden goblets would have done ; and Bob 
served it out with beaming looks, while the chestnuts 
on the fire sputtered and cracked noisily. Then Bob 
proposed : 

' A merry Christmas to us all, my dears. God bless 
us!' 

Which all the family re-echoed. 

' God bless us every one ! ' said Tiny Tim, the last 
of all. 

He sat very close to his father's side, upon his little 
stool. Bob held his withered little hand to his, as if he 
loved the child, and wished to keep him by his side, 
and dreaded that he might be taken from him. 

* Spirit,' said Scrooge, with an interest he had never 
felt before, ' tell me if Tiny Tim will live.' 

' I see a vacant seat,' replied the Ghost, ' in the 
poor chimney corner, and a crutch without an owner, 
carefully preserved. If these shadows remain un- 
altered by the Future, the child will die.' 

' No, no,' said Scrooge. ' Oh no, kind Spirit ! say 
he will be spared.' 



90 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

* If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future 
none other of my race/ returned the Ghost, * will find 
him here. What then ? If he be like to die, he had 
better do it, and decrease the surplus population.' 

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted 
by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and 
grief. 

' Man,' said the Ghost, ' if man you be in heart, not 
adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have 
discovered what the surplus is, and where it is. Will 
you decide what men shall live, what men shall die ? 
It may be that, in the sight of Heaven, you are more 
worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor 
man's child. O God ! to hear the insect on the leaf 
pronouncing on the too much life among his hungry 
brothers in the dust ! ' 

Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and, trem- 
bling, cast his eyes upon the ground. But he raised 
them speedily on hearing his own name. 

' Mr. Scrooge ! ' said Bob. ' I'll give you Mr. 
Scrooge, the Founder of the Feast ! ' 

' The Founder of the Feast, indeed ! ' cried Mrs. 
Cratchit, reddening. ' I wish I had him here. I'd 
give him a piece of my mind to feast upon, and I hope 
he'd have a good appetite for it.' 

' My dear,' said Bob, ' the children ! Christmas 
Day.' 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 91 

' It should be Christmas Day, I am sure,' said she, 
* on which one drinks the health of such an odious, 
stingy, hard, unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge. You 
know he is, Robert ! Nobody knows it better than you 
do, poor fellow ! ' 

* My dear ! ' was Bob's mild answer. ' Christmas 
Day.' 

' I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's/ 
said Mrs. Cratchit, ' not for his. Long life to him ! A 
merry Christmas and a happy New Year ! He'll be 
very merry and very happy, I have no doubt ! ' 

The children drank the toast after her. It was the 
first of their proceedings which had no heartiness in it. 
Tiny Tim drank it last of all, but he didn't care two- 
pence for it. Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The 
mention of his name cast a dark shadow on the party, 
which was not dispelled for full five minutes. 

After it had passed away they were ten times merrier 
than before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the 
Baleful being done with. Bob Cratchit told them how 
he had a situation in his eye for Master Peter, which 
would bring in, if obtained, full five-and-sixpence 
weekly. The two young Cratchits laughed tre- 
mendously at the idea of Peter's being a man of 
business ; and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at 
the fire from between his collars, as if he were de- 
liberating what particular investments he should favour 



92 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

when he came into the receipt of that bewildering 
income. Martha, who was a poor apprentice at a 
milHner's, then told them what kind of work she had 
to do, and how many hours she worked at a stretch 
and how she meant to lie abed to-morrow morning for 
a good long rest; to-morrow being a holiday she 
passed at home. Also how she had seen a countess 
and a lord some days before, and how the lord * was 
much about as tall as Peter ' ; at which Peter pulled 
up his collar so high that you couldn't have seen his 
head if you had been there. All this time the chest- 
nuts and the jug went round and round ; and by-and- 
by they had a song, about a lost child travelling in the 
snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice, 
and sang it very well indeed. 

There was nothing of high mark in this. They were 
not a handsome family ; they were not well dressed ; 
their shoes were far from being waterproof; their 
clothes were scanty ; and Peter might have known, and 
very likely did, the inside of a pawnbroker's. But they 
were happy, grateful, pleased with one another, and 
contented with the time ; and when they faded, and 
looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings of the 
Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon 
them, and especially on Tiny Tim, imtil the last. 

By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty 
heavily ; and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 93 

streets, the brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, 
parlours, and all sorts of rooms was wonderful. Here, 
the flickering of the blaze showed preparations for a 
cosy dinner, with hot plates baking through and 
through before the fire, and deep red curtains, ready 
to be drawn to shut out cold and darkness. There, 
all the children of the house were running out into the 
snow to meet their married sisters, brothers, cousins, 
uncles, aimts, and be the first to greet them. Here, 
again, were shadows on the window-blinds of guests 
assembUng ; and there a group of handsome girls, all 
hooded and far-booted, and all chattering at once, 
tripped lightly off to some near neighbour's house; 
where, woe upon the single man who saw them enter — 
artful witches, well they knew it — in a glow ! 

But, if you had judged from the numbers of people 
on their way to friendly gatherings, you might have 
thought that no one was at home to give them welcome 
when they got there, instead of every house expecting 
company, and piling up its fires half-chimney high. 
Blessings on it, how the Ghost exulted ! How it 
bared its breadth of breast, and opened its capacious 
palm, and floated on, outpouring with a generous hand 
its bright and harmless mirth on everything within its 
reach ! The very lamplighter, who ran on before, 
dotting the dusky street with specks of fight, and who 
was dressed to spend the evening somewhere, laughed 



94 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

out loudly as the Spirit passed, though little kenned 
the lamplighter that he had any company but Christmas. 

And now, without a word of warning from the 
Ghost, they stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where 
monstrous masses of rude stone were cast about, as 
though it were the burial-place of giants ; and water 
spread itself wheresoever it listed ; or would have done 
so, but for the frost that held it prisoner ; and nothing 
grew but moss and furze, and coarse, rank grass. 
Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of 
fiery red, which glared upon the desolation for an 
instant, like a sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, 
lower yet, was lost in the thick gloom of darkest 
night. 

' What place is this ? ' asked Scrooge. 

* A place where miners live, who labour in the bowels 
of the earth,' returned the Spirit. * But they know 
me. See ! ' 

A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly 
they advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of 
mud and stone, they found a cheerful company 
assembled round a glowing fire. An old, old man and 
woman, with their children and their children's 
children, and another generation beyond that, all 
decked out gaily in their holiday attire. The old man, 
in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of the 
wind upon the barren waste, was singing them a 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 95 

Christmas song ; it had been a very old song when he 
was a boy ; and from time to time they all joined in the 
chorus. So surely as they raised their voices, the old 
man got quite blithe and loud ; and so surely as they 
stopped, his vigour sank again. 

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold 
his robe, and, passing on above the moor, sped whither ? 
Not to sea ? To sea. To Scrooge's horror, looking 
back, he saw the last of the land, a frightful range of 
rocks, behind them ; and his ears were deafened by the 
thundering of water, as it rolled and roared, and raged 
among the dreadful caverns it had worn, and fiercely 
tried to undermine the earth. 

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some 
league or so from shore, on which the waters chafed 
and dashed, the wild year through, there stood a 
solitary lighthouse. Great heaps of seaweed clung to 
its base, and storm-birds — born of the wind, one might 
suppose, as seaweed of the water — rose and fell about 
it, like the waves they skimmed. 

But, even here, two men who watched the light had 
made a fire, that through the loophole in the thick 
stone wall shed out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. 
Joining their horny hands over the rough table at 
which they sat, they wished each other Merry Christ- 
mas in their can of grog ; and one of them — the elder 
too, with his face all damaged and scarred with hard 



96 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might be 
— struck up a sturdy song that was hke a gale in 
itself. 

Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving 
sea — on, on — until being far away, as he told Scrooge, 
from any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood 
beside the helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in 
the bow, the officers who had the watch; dark, 
ghostly figures in their several stations ; but every man 
among them hummed a Christmas tune, or had a 
Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath to his 
companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with home- 
ward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, 
waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder 
word for one another on that day than on any day in 
the year ; and had shared to some extent in its 
festivities ; and had remembered those he cared for at 
a distance, and had known that they delighted to 
remember him. 

It was a great surprise to Scrooge, while listening to 
the moaning of the wind, and thinking what a solemn 
thing it was to move on through the lonely darkness 
over an unknown abyss, whose depths were secrets as 
profound as death : it was a great surprise to Scrooge, 
while thus engaged, to hear a hearty laugh. It was a 
much greater surprise to Scrooge to recognise it as his 
own nephew's and to find himself in a bright, dry. 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 97 

gleaming room, with the Spirit standing smihng by his 
side, and looking at that same nephew with approving 
affability ! 

* Ha, ha ! ' laughed Scrooge's nephew. * Ha, ha, ha ! ' 

If you should happen, by any unlikely chance, to 
know a man more blessed in a laugh than Scrooge's 
nephew, all I can say is, I should like to know him too. 
Introduce him to me, and I'll cultivate his acquaint- 
ance. 

It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, 
that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there 
is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as 
laughter and good-himiour. When Scrooge's nephew 
laughed in this way — holding his sides, rolling his head, 
and twisting his face into the most extravagant contor- 
tions — Scrooge's niece, by marriage, laughed as heartily 
as he. And their assembled friends, being not a bit 
behindhand, roared out lustily. 

^Ha,ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha ! ' 

' He said that Christmas was a humbug, as I live ! ' 
cried Scrooge's nephew. * He believed it, too ! ' 

' More shame for him, Fred ! ' said Scrooge's niece 
indignantly. Bless those women ! they never do any- 
thing by halves. They are always in earnest. 

She was very pretty ; exceedingly pretty. With a 
dimpled, surprised-looking, capital face ; a ripe little 
mouth, that seemed made to be kissed — as no doubt it 



98 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

was ; all kinds of good little dots about her chin, that 
melted into one another when she laughed ; and the 
sunniest pair of eyes you ever saw in any little creature's 
head. Altogether she was what you w^ould have called 
provoking, you know ; but satisfactory, too. Oh, per- 
fectly satisfactory ! 

' He's a comical old fellow,' said Scrooge's nephew, 
' that's the truth ; and not so pleasant as he might be. 
However, his offences carry their own punishment, and 
I have nothing to say against him.' 

' I'm sure he is very rich, Fred,' hinted Scrooge's 
niece. ' At least, you always tell me so.' 

' What of that, my dear ? ' said Scrooge's nephew. 
' His wealth is of no use to him. He don't do any 
good with it. He don't make himself comfortable with 
it. He hasn't the satisfaction of thinking — ha, ha, ha ! 
— that he is ever going to benefit Us with it.' 

* I have no patience with him,' observed Scrooge's 
niece. Scrooge's niece's sisters, and all the other 
ladies, expressed the same opinion. 

* Oh, I have ! ' said Scrooge's nephew. ' I am sorry 
for him ; I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. Who 
suffers by his ill whims ? Himself always. Here he 
takes it into his head to dislike us, and he won't come 
and dine with us. What's the consequence ? He don't 
lose much of a dinner.' 

* Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner,' inter- 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 99 

rupted Scrooge's niece. Everybody else said the same, 
and they must be allowed to have been competent 
judges, because they had just had dinner ; and with the 
dessert upon the table, were clustered round the fire, 
by lamplight. 

* Well ! I am very glad to hear it,' said Scrooge's 
nephew, ' because I haven't any great faith in these 
young housekeepers. What do you say, Topper ? ' 

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's 
niece's sisters, for he answered that a bachelor was a 
wretched outcast, who had no right to express an 
opinion on the subject. Whereat Scrooge's niece's 
sister — the plump one with the lace tucker : not the 
one with the roses — blushed. 

' Do go on, Fred,' said Scrooge's niece, clapping her 
hands. ' He never finishes what he begins to say ! He 
is such a ridiculous fellow ! ' 

Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh, and as 
it was impossible to keep the infection off, though the 
plump sister tried hard to do it with aromatic vinegar^ 
his example was unanimously followed. 

* I was only going to say,' said Scrooge's nephew, 
* that the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and 
not making merry with us, is, as I think, that he loses 
some pleasant moments, which could do him no harm. 
I am sure he loses pleasanter companions than he can 
find in his own thoughts, either in his mouldy old office 



100 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

or his dusty chambers. I mean to give him the same 
chance every year, whether he hkes it or not, for I pity 
him. He may rail at Christmas till he dies, but he 
can't help thinking better of it — I defy him — if he finds 
me going there, in good temper, year after year, and 
saying, " Uncle Scrooge, how are you ? " If it only put 
him in the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds, 
thafs something ; and I think I shook him yesterday.' 

It was their turn to laugh now, at the notion of his 
shaking Scrooge. But being thoroughly good-natured, 
and not much caring what they laughed at, so that 
they laughed at any rate, he encouraged them in their 
merriment, and passed the bottle, joyously. 

After tea they had some music. For they were a 
musical family, and knew what they were about when 
they sung a Glee or Catch, I can assure you : especially 
Topper, who could growl away in the bass like a good 
one, and never swell the large veins in his forehead, or 
get red in the face over it. Scrooge's niece played well 
upon the harp ; and played, among other tunes, a 
simple little air (a mere nothing : you might learn to 
whistle it in two minutes) which had been familiar to 
the child who fetched Scrooge from the boarding- 
school, as he had been reminded by the Ghost of 
Christmas Past. When this strain of music sounded, all 
the things that Ghost had shown him came upon his 
mind \ he softened more and more ; and thought that 




The way he went after that plump sister in the lace tucker 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS loi 

if he could have Hstened to it often, years ago, he 
might have cultivated the kindnesses of life for his own 
happiness with his own hands, without resorting to the 
sexton's spade that buried Jacob Marley. 

But they didn't devote the whole evening to music. 
After a while they played at forfeits ; for it is good to 
be children sometimes, and never better than at Christ- 
mas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself. 
Stop ! There was first a game at blindman's-buff. Of 
course there was. And I no more believe Topper was 
really blind than I believe he had eyes in his boots. 
My opinion is, that it was a done thing between 
him and Scrooge's nephew; and that the Ghost of 
Christmas Present knew it. The way he went after 
that plump sister in the lace tucker was an outrage on 
the credulity of human nature. Knocking down the 
fire-irons, tumbling over the chairs, bumping up 
against the piano, smothering himself amongst the 
curtains, wherever she went, there went he ! He 
always knew where the plump sister was. He wouldn't 
catch anybody else. If you had fallen up against him 
(as some of them did) on purpose, he would have made 
a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which would have 
been an affront to your understanding, and would 
instantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump 
sister. She often cried out that it wasn't fair ; and it 
really was not. But when, at last, he caught her; 



102 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

when, in spite of all her silken rustlings, and her rapid 
flutterings past him, he got her into a corner whence 
there was no escape ; then his conduct was the 
most execrable. For his pretending not to know her ; 
his pretending that it was necessary to touch her head- 
dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by 
pressing a certain ring upon her finger, and a certain 
chain about her neck ; was vile, monstrous ! No doubt 
she told him her opinion of it when, another blind man 
being in office, they were so very confidential together 
behind the curtains. 

Scrooge's niece was not one of the blind man's-buff 
party, but was made comfortable with a large chair and 
a footstool, in a snug corner where the Ghost and 
Scrooge were close behind her. But she joined in the 
forfeits, and loved her love to admiration with all the 
letters of the alphabet. Likewise at the game of How, 
When, and Where, she was very great, and, to the 
secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her sisters hollow ; 
though they were sharp girls too, as Topper could have 
told you. There might have been twenty people there, 
young and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge ; 
for wholly forgetting, in the interest he had in what 
was going on, that his voice made no sound in their 
ears, he sometimes came out with his guess quite loud, 
and very often guessed right, too ; for the sharpest 
needle, best Whitechapel, warranted not to cut in the 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 103 

eye, was not sharper than Scrooge, blunt as he took it 
in his head to be. 

The Ghost was greatly pleased to find him in this 
mood, and looked upon him with such favour that he 
begged like a boy to be allowed to stay until the 
guests departed. But this the Spirit said could not 
be done. 

* Here is a new game,' said Scrooge. ' One half- 
hour. Spirit, only one ! ' 

It was a game called Yes and No, where Scrooge's 
nephew had to think of something, and the rest must 
find out what, he only answering to their questions yes 
or no, as the case was. The brisk fire of questioning 
to which he was exposed elicited from him that he was 
thinking of an animal, a live animal, rather a disagree- 
able animal, a savage animal, an animal that growled 
and grunted sometimes, and talked sometimes and 
lived in London, and walked about the streets, and 
wasn't made a show of, and wasn't led by anybody, and 
didn't live in a menagerie, and was never killed in a 
market, and was not a horse, or an ass, or a cow, or a 
bull, or a tiger, or a dog, or a pig, or a cat, or a bear. 
At every fresh question that was put to him, this 
nephew burst into a fresh roar of laughter ; and was so 
inexpressibly tickled, that he was obliged to get up off 
the sofa and stamp. At last the plump sister, falling 
into a similar state, cried out : 



104 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' I have found it out ! I know what it is, Fred ! I 
know what it is ! ' 

' What is it ? ' cried Fred. 

' It's your uncle Scro-o-o-o-oge.' 

Which it certainly was. Admiration was the universal 
sentiment, though some objected that the reply to ' Is 
it a bear ? ' ought to have been ' Yes ' ; inasmuch as an 
answer in the negative was sufficient to have diverted 
their thoughts from Mr. Scrooge, supposing they had 
ever had any tendency that way. 

' He has given us plenty of merriment, I am sure,' 
said Fred, ' and it would be ungrateful not to drink his 
health. Here is a glass of mulled wine ready to our 
hand at the moment ; and I say, " Uncle Scrooge ! " ' 

' Well ! Uncle Scrooge ! ' they cried. 

' A merry Christmas and a happy New Year to the 
old man, whatever he is ! ' said Scrooge's nephew. 
' He wouldn't take it from me, but may he have it, 
nevertheless. Uncle Scrooge ! ' 

Uncle Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and 
light of heart, that he would have pledged the uncon- 
scious company in return, and thanked them in an in- 
audible speech, if the Ghost had given him time. But 
the whole scene passed off in the breath of the last 
word spoken by his nephew ; and he and the Spirit 
were again upon their travels. 

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 1 05 

they visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit 
stood beside sick-beds, and they were cheerful ; on 
foreign lands, and they were close at home ; by 
struggling men, and they were patient in their greater 
hope ; by poverty, and it was rich. In almshouse, 
hospital, and gaol, in misery's every refuge, where vain 
man in his little brief authority had not made fast the 
door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his blessing 
and taught Scrooge his precepts. 

It was a long night, if it were only a night ; but 
Scrooge had his doubts of this, because the Christmas 
holidays appeared to be condensed into the space of 
time they passed together. It was strange, too, that, 
while Scrooge remained unaltered in his outward form, 
the Ghost grew older, clearly older. Scrooge had 
observed this change, but never spoke of it until they 
left a children's Twelfth-Night party, when, looking at 
the Spirit as they stood together in an open place, he 
noticed that its hair was grey. 

' Are spirits' lives so short ? ' asked Scrooge. 

' My life upon this globe is very brief,' replied the 
Ghost. * It ends to-night.' 

* To-night ! ' cried Scrooge. 

* To-night at midnight. Hark ! The time is drawing 
near.' 

The chimes were ringing the three-quarters past 
eleven at that moment. 



106 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

* Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,' said 
Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, * but I 
see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, 
protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw ? ' 

* It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,' 
was the Spirit's sorrowful reply. ' Look here ! ' 

From the foldings of its robe it brought two children, 
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They 
knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its 
garment. 

* O Man ! look here ! Look, look down here ! ' 
exclaimed the Ghost. 

They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged, 
scowling, wolfish, but prostrate, too, in their humility. 
Where graceful youth should have filled their features 
out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale 
and shrivelled hand, like that of age, had pinched and 
twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where 
angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and 
glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no 
perversion of humanity in any grade, through all the 
mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so 
horrible and dread. 

Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown 
to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine 
children, but the words choked themselves, rather than 
be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. 



THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS 107 

* Spirit ! are they yours ? ' Scrooge could say no 
more. 

' They are Man's,' said the Spirit, looking down upon 
them. ' And they cling to me, appealing from their 
fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. 
Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most 
of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that 
written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. 
Deny it ! ' cried the Spirit, stretching out his hand 
towards the city. ' Slander those who tell it ye ! 
Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it 
worse ! And bide the end ! ' 

' Have they no refuge or resource ? ' cried Scrooge. 

* Are there no prisons ? ' said the Spirit, turning on 
him for the last time with his own words. ' Are there 
no workhouses ? ' 

The bell struck Twelve. 

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw 
it not. As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he 
remembered the prediction of old Jacob Marley, and, 
lifting up his eyes, beheld a solemn Phantom, draped 
and hooded, coming like a mist along the ground 
towards him. 



STAVE FOUR 




THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 



THE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. 
When it came near him, Scrooge bent down upon 
his knee ; for in the very air through which this Spirit 
moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery. 

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which con- 
cealed its head, its face, its form, and left nothing of it 
visible, save one outstretched hand. But for this, it 
would have been difficult to detach its figure from the 
night, and separate it from the darkness by which it was 
surrounded. 



112 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came 
beside him, and that its mysterious presence filled him 
with a solemn dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit 
neither spoke nor moved. 

' I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet 
to Come ? ' said Scrooge. 

The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its 
hand. 

' You are about to show me shadows of the things 
that have not happened, but will happen in the time 
before us,' Scrooge pursued. ' Is that so. Spirit ? ' 

The upper portion of the garment was contracted for 
an instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its 
head. That was the only answer he received. 

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, 
Scrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs 
trembled beneath him, and he found that he could 
hardly stand when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit 
paused a moment, as observing his condition, and 
giving him time to recover. 

But Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled 
him with a vague, uncertain horror to know that, 
behind the dusky shroud, there were ghostly eyes 
intently fixed upon him, while he, though he stretched 
his own to the utmost, could see nothing but a spectral 
hand and one great heap of black. 

* Ghost of the Future ! ' he exclaimed, ' I fear you 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 113 

more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know 
your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to hve to 
be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear 
your company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will 
you not speak to me ? ' 

It gave him no reply. The hand was pointed 
straight before them. 

* Lead on ! ' said Scrooge. ' Lead on ! The night is 
waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. 
Lead on. Spirit ! ' 

The Phantom moved away as it had come towards 
him. Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress, 
which bore him up, he thought, and carried him along. 

They scarcely seemed to enter the City ; for the City 
rather seemed to spring up about them, and encompass 
them of its own act. But there they were in the 
heart of it ; on 'Change, amongst the merchants, who 
hurried up and down, and chinked the money in their 
pockets, and conversed in groups, and looked at their 
watches, and trifled thoughtfully with their great gold 
seals, and so forth, as Scrooge had seen them often. 

The Spirit stopped beside one little knot of business 
men. Observing that the hand was pointed to them, 
Scrooge advanced to listen to their talk. 

* No,' said a great fat man with a monstrous chin, * I 
don't know much about it either way. I only know 
he's dead.' 



114 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' When did he die ? ' inquired another. 

' Last night, I beHeve.' 

' Why, what was the matter with him ? ' asked a 
third, taking a vast quantity of snufF out of a very 
large snuff-box. ' I thought he'd never die.' 

' God knows,' said the first, with a yawn. 

' What has he done with his money ? ' asked a 
red-faced gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on 
the end of his nose, that shook like the gills of a 
turkey-cock. 

' I haven't heard,' said the man with the large chin, 
yawning again. ' Left it to his company, perhaps. 
He hasn't left it to me. That's all I know.' 

This pleasantry was received with a general 
laugh. 

' It's likely to be a very cheap funeral,' said the 
same speaker ; ' for, upon my life, I don't know of 
anybody to go to it. Suppose we make up a party, 
and volunteer ? ' 

' I don't mind going if a lunch is provided,' observed 
the gentleman with the excrescence on his nose. ' But 
I must be fed if I make one.' 

Another laugh. 

' Well, I am the most disinterested among you, 
after all,' said the first speaker, ' for I never wear 
black gloves, and I never eat lunch. But I'll offer 
to go if anybody else will. When I come to think 




"How are you?" said one. 

"How are you?" returned the other. 

"Well!" said the first. "Old Scratch has got his own at last, hey?" 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 115 

of it, I'm not at all sure that I wasn't his most 
particular friend; for we used to stop and speak 
whenever we met. Bye, bye ! ' 

Speakers and listeners strolled away, and mixed 
with other groups. Scrooge knew the men, and 
looked towards the Spirit for an explanation. 

The phantom glided on into a street. Its finger 
pointed to two persons meeting. Scrooge listened 
again, thinking that the explanation might lie here. 

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were 
men of business : very wealthy, and of great im- 
portance. He had made a point always of standing 
well in their esteem in a business point of view, that 
is ; strictly in a business point of view. 

' How are you ? ' said one. 

' How are you ? ' returned the other. 

* Well ! ' said the first, ' old Scratch has got his own 
at last, hey ? ' 

' So I am told,' returned the second. ' Cold, isn't 
it?' 

* Seasonable for Christmas- time. You are not a 
skater, I suppose ? ' 

' No, no. Something else to think of. Good- 
morning ! ' 

Not another word. That was their meeting, their 
conversation, and their parting. 

Scrooge was at first inclined to be surprised that the 



ii6 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Spirit should attach importance to conversations ap- 
parently so trivial ; but feeling assured that they must 
have some hidden purpose, he set himself to consider 
what it was likely to be. They could scarcely be sup- 
posed to have any bearing on the death of Jacob, his 
old partner, for that was Past, and this Ghost's province 
was the Future. Nor could he think of any one im- 
mediately connected with himself to whom he could 
apply them. But nothing doubting that, to whomso- 
ever they applied, they had some latent moral for his 
own improvement, he resolved to treasure up every 
word he heard, and everything he saw ; and especially 
to observe the shadow of himself when it appeared. 
For he had an expectation that the conduct of his 
future self would give him the clue he missed, and 
would render the solution of these riddles easy. 

He looked about in that very place for his own 
image, but another man stood in his accustomed 
corner ; and though the clock pointed to his usual 
time of day for being there, he saw no likeness of 
himself among the multitudes that poured in through 
the Porch, It gave him little surprise, however ; for 
he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and 
thought and hoped he saw his new-born resolutions 
carried out in this. 

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with 
its outstretched hand. When he roused himself from 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 117 

his thoughtful quest, he fancied, from the turn of the 
hand, and its situation in reference to himself, that the 
Unseen Eyes were looking at him keenly. It made 
him shudder, and feel very cold. 

They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure 
part of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated 
before, although he recognised its situation and its bad 
repute. The ways were foul and narrow ; the shops 
and houses wretched ; the people half naked, drunken, 
slipshod, ugly. Alleys and archways, like so many 
cesspools, disgorged their offences of smell and dirt, 
and life upon the straggling streets ; and the 
whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and 
misery. 

Far in this den of infamous resort, there was a low- 
browed, beetling shop, below a penthouse roof, where 
iron, old rags, bottles, bones, and greasy offal were 
bought. Upon the floor within were piled up heaps of 
rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, files, scales, weights, 
and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets that few would 
like to scrutinise were bred and hidden in mountains 
of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and sepul* 
chres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt 
in, by a charcoal stove made of old bricks, was a grey- 
haired rascal, nearly seventy years of age, who had 
screened himself from the cold air without by a frouzy 
curtaining of miscellaneous tatters hung upon a line- 



ri8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

and smoked his pipe in all the luxury of calm retire- 
ment. 

Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of 
this man, just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk 
into the shop, But she had scarcely entered, when 
another woman, similarly laden, came in too ; and she 
was closely followed by a man in faded black, who was 
no less startled by the sight of them than they had 
been upon the recognition of each other. After a short 
period of blank astonishment, in which the old man 
with the pipe had joined them, they all three burst 
into a laugh. 

* Let the charwoman alone to be the first ! ' cried she 
who had entered first. * Let the laundress alone to be 
the second ; and let the undertaker's man alone to be 
the third. Look here, old Joe, here's a chance ! If 
we haven't all three met here without meaning it ! ' 

' You couldn't have met in a better place,' said 
old Joe, removing his pipe from his mouth. ' Come 
into the parlour. You were made free of it long ago, 
you know; and the other two an't strangers. Stop 
till I shut the door of the shop. Ah ! how it skreeks ! 
There an't such a rusty bit of metal in the place as 
its own hinges, I believe ; and I'm sure there's no 
such old bones here as mine. Ha ! ha ! We're all 
suitable to our calling, we're well matched. Come 
into the parlour. Come into the parlour.' 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 119 

The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. 
The old man raked the fire together with an old 
stair-rod, and having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it 
was night) with the stem of his pipe, put it into his 
mouth again. 

While he did this, the woman who had already 
spoken threw her bundle on the floor, and sat down 
in a flaunting manner on a stool, crossing her elbows 
on her knees, and looking with a bold defiance at the 
other two. 

^What odds, then? What odds, Mrs. Dilber ? ' 
said the woman. ' Every person has a right to take 
care of themselves. He always did ! ' 

* That's true, indeed ! ' said the laundress. ' No 
man more so.' 

' Why, then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid, 
woman ! Who's the wiser ? We're not going to pick 
holes in each other's coats, I suppose ? ' 

* No, indeed ! ' said Mrs. Dilber and the man 
together. ^ We should hope not.' 

' Very well then ! ' cried the woman. ' That's 
enough. Who's the worse for the loss of a few things 
like these ? Not a dead man, I suppose ? ' 

' No, indeed,' said Mrs. Dilber, laughing. 

* If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a 
wicked old screw,' pursued the woman, ' why wasn't 
he natural in Kis Hfetime ? If he had been, he'd have 



120 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

had somebody to look after him when he was struck 
with Death, instead of lying gasping out his last there, 
alone by himself.' 

* It's the truest word that ever was spoke,' said Mrs. 
Dilber. ' It's a judgment on him.' 

' I wish it was a Httle heavier judgment,' repHed the 
woman : ' and it should have been, you may depend 
upon it, if I could have laid my hands on anything 
else. Open that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the 
value of it. Speak out plain. I'm not afraid to be the 
first, nor afraid for them, to see it. We knew pretty 
well that we were helping ourselves before we met 
here, I believe. It's no sin. Open the bundle, Joe.' 

But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of 
this ; and the man in faded black, mounting the breach 
first, produced his plunder. It was not extensive. A 
seal or two, a pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and 
a brooch of no great value, were all. They were severally 
examined and appraised by old Joe, who chalked the 
sums he was disposed to give for each upon the wall, 
and added them up into a total when he found that 
there was nothing more to come. 

* That's your account,' said Joe, * and I wouldn't 
give another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not 
doing it. Who's next ? ' 

Mrs. Dilber was next. Sheets and towels, a little 
wearing apparel, two old fashioned silver teaspoons, a 




"What do you call t/iis'^" said Joe. ''Bed-curtains!" 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 121 

pair of sugar-tongs, and a few boots. Her account was 
stated on the wall in the same manner. 

* I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of 
mine, and that's the way I ruin myself,' said old Joe. 

* That's your account. If you asked me for another 
penny, and made it an open question, I'd repent of 
being so liberal, and knock off half-a-crown.' 

* And now undo my bundle, Joe,' said the first 
woman. 

Joe went down on his knees for the greater con- 
venience of opening it, and, having unfastened a great 
many knots, dragged out a large heavy roll of some 
dark stuff. 

' What do you call this ? ' said Joe. ' Bed-curtains ?' 

* Ah ! ' returned the woman, laughing and leaning 
forward on her crossed arms. * Bed-curtains ! ' 

' You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings 
and all, with him lying there ? ' said Joe. 
' Yes, I do,' replied the woman. ' Why not ? ' 
' You were born to make your fortune,' said Joe, 

* and you'll certainly do it.' 

* I certainly shan't hold my hand, when I can get 
anything in it by reaching it out, for the sake of such 
a man as he was, I promise you, Joe,' returned the 
woman coolly. ' Don't drop that oil upon the blankets, 
now.' 

* His blankets ? ' asked Joe. 



1 22 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

* Whose else's do you think ? ' repHed the woman, 

* He isn't Hkely to take cold without 'em, I dare 
say.' 

* I hope he didn't die of anything catching ? Eh ? ' 
said old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up. 

* Don't you be afraid of that,' returned the woman. 

* I an't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about 
him for such things, if he did. Ah ! you may look 
through that shirt till your eyes ache, but you won't 
find a hole in it, nor a threadbare place. It's the best 
he had, and a fine one too. They'd have wasted it, if 
it hadn't been for me.' 

* What do you call wasting of it ? ' asked old Joe. 
'Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure,' 

replied the woman, with a laugh. * Somebody was fool 
enough to do it, but I took it off again. If calico an't 
good enough for such a purpose, it isn't good enough 
for anything. It's quite as becoming to the body. He 
can't look uglier than he did in that one.' 

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they 
sat grouped about their spoil, in the scanty light 
afforded by the old man's lamp, he viewed them with a 
detestation and disgust which could hardly have been 
greater, though they had been obscene demons 
marketing the corpse itself. 

* Ha, ha ! ' laughed the same woman when old Joe 
producing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 123 

several gains upon the ground. ' This is the end of it, you 
see ! He frightened every one away from him when he 
was aUve, to profit us when he was dead ! Ha, ha, ha ! ' 

' Spirit ! ' said Scrooge, shuddering from head to 
foot. ' I see, I see. The case of this unhappy man 
might be my own. My life tends that way now. 
Merciful heaven, what is this ? ' 

He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and 
now he almost touched a bed — a bare, uncurtained bed 
— on which, beneath a ragged sheet, there lay a some- 
thing covered up, which, though it was dumb, 
announced itself in awful language. 

The room was very dark, too dark to be observed 
with any accuracy, though Scrooge glanced round it in 
obedience to a secret impulse, anxious to know what 
kind of room it was. A pale light, rising in the outer 
air, fell straight upon the bed ; and on it, plundered 
and bereft, unwatched, unwept, uncared for, was the 
body of this man. 

Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady 
hand was pointed to the head. The cover was so 
carelessly adjusted that the slightest raising of it, the 
motion of a finger upon Scrooge's part, would have 
disclosed the face. He thought of it, felt how easy it 
would be to do, and longed to do it ; but he had no more 
power to withdraw the veil than to dismiss the spectre 
at his side. 



124 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

Oh, cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine 
altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast 
at thy command ; for this is thy dominion ! But of 
the loved, revered, and honoured head thou canst not 
turn one hair to thy dread purposes, or make one 
feature odious. It is not that the hand is heavy, and 
will fall down when released ; it is not that the heart 
and pulse are still ; but that the hand was open, 
generous, and true; the heart brave, warm, and 
tender, and the pulse a man's. Strike, Shadow, strike ! 
And see his good deeds springing from the wound, to 
sow the world with life immortal ! 

No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's ears, 
and yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. 
He thought, if this man could be raised up now, what 
would be his foremost thoughts ? Avarice, hard dealing, 
griping cares ? They have brought him to a rich end, 
truly ! 

He lay in the dark, empty house, with not a man, a 
woman, or a child to say he was kind to me in this or 
that, and for the memory of one kind word I will be 
kind to him. A cat was tearing at the door, and there 
was a sound of gnawing rats beneath the hearthstone. 
What they wanted in the room of death, and why they 
were so restless and disturbed, Scrooge did not dare to 
think. 

' Spirit 1 ' he said, ' this is a fearful place. In 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 125 

leaving it, I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let 
us go ! ' 

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to 
the head. 

* I understand you/ Scrooge returned, * and I would 
do it if I could. But I have not the power. Spirit. I 
have not the power.' 

Again it seemed to look upon him. 

' If there is any person in the town who feels emotion 
caused by this man's death,' said Scrooge, quite 
agonised, ' show that person to me. Spirit, I beseech 
you! ' 

The Phantom spread its dark robe before him for a 
moment, like a wing ; and, withdrawing it, revealed a 
room by daylight, where a mother and her children were. 

She was expecting some one, and with anxious 
eagerness ; for she walked up and down the room, 
started at every sound, looked out from the window, 
glanced at the clock, tried, but in vain, to work with 
her needle, and could hardly bear the voices of her 
children in their play. 

At length the long-expected knock was heard. She 
hurried to the door, and met her husband ; a man 
whose face was careworn and depressed, though he was 
young. There was a remarkable expression in it now, 
a kind of serious delight of which he felt ashamed, and 
which he struggled to repress. 



126 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding 
for him by the fire, and when she asked him faintly 
what news (which was not until after a long silence), 
he appeared embarrassed how to answer. 

' Is it good,' she said, ' or bad ? ' to help him. 

* Bad,' he answered 

' We are quite ruined ? ' 

* No. There is hope yet, Caroline.' 

* If he relents,' she^ said, amazed, ' there is ! Nothing 
is past hope, if such a miracle has happened.' 

* He is past relenting,' said her husband. ' He is dead.' 
She was a mild and patient creature, if her face 

spoke truth ; but she was thankful in her soul to hear 
it, and she said so with clasped hands. She prayed 
forgiveness the next moment, and was sorry ; but the 
first was the emotion of her heart. 

' What the half-drunken woman, whom I told you of 
last night, said to me when I tried to see him and 
obtain a week's delay — and what I thought was a mere 
excuse to avoid me— turns out to have been quite true. 
He was not only very ill, but dying, then.' 

* To whom will our debt be transferred ? ' 

* I don't know. But, before that time, we shall be 
ready with the money ; and even though we were not, 
it would be bad fortune indeed to find so merciless 
a creditor in his successor. We may sleep to-night 
with light hearts, Caroline ! ' 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 127 

Yes, Soften it as they would, their hearts were 
lighter. The children's faces, hushed and clustered 
round to hear what they so little understood, were 
brighter ; and it was a happier house for this man's 
death ! The only emotion that the Ghost could show 
him, caused by the event, was one of pleasure. 

* Let me see some tenderness connected with a death,' 
said Scrooge ; * or that dark chamber, Spirit, which we 
left just now, will be for ever present to me.' 

The Ghost conducted him through several streets 
familiar to his feet ; and as they went along, Scrooge 
looked here and there to find himself, but nowhere was 
he to be seen. They entered poor Bob Cratchit's 
house ; the dwelling he had visited before ; and 
found the mother and the children seated round the 
fire. 

Quiet. Very quiet. The noisy little Cratchits were 
as still as statues in one corner, and sat looking up at 
Peter, who had a book before him. The mother and 
her daughters were engaged in sewing. But surely 
they were very quiet ! 

* " And he took a child, and set him in the midst of 
them." ' 

Where had Scrooge heard those words ? He had not 
dreamed them. The boy must have read them out as 
he and the Spirit crossed the threshold. Why did he 
not go on ? 



128 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

The mother laid her work upon the table, and put 
her hand up to her face. 

* The colour hurts my eyes/ she said. 
The colour ? Ah, poor Tiny Tim ! 

' They're better now again,' said Cratchit's wife. * It 
makes them weak by candle-light ; and I wouldn't show 
weak eyes to your father when he comes home for the 
world. It must be near his time.' 

* Past it rather,' Peter answered, shutting up his 
book. * But I think he has walked a little slower than 
he used, these few last evenings, mother.' 

They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in 
a steady, cheerful voice, that only faltered once : 

' I have known him walk with — I have known him 
walk with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder very fast 
indeed.' 

' And so have I,' cried Peter. * Often.' 

* And so have I,' exclaimed another. So had all. 

' But he was very light to carry,' she resumed, intent 
upon her work, ' and his father loved him so, that it 
was no trouble, no trouble. And there is your father 
at the door ! ' 

She hurried out to meet him ; and little Bob in his 
comforter — he had need of it, poor fellow — came in. 
His tea was ready for him on the hob, and they all 
tried who should help him to it most. Then the two 
young Cratchits got upon his knees, and laid, each 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 129 

child, a little cheek against his face, as if they said, 
* Don't mind it, father. Don't be grieved ! ' 

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke 
pleasantly to all the family. He looked at the work 
upon the table, and praised the industry and speed of 
Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. They would be done 
long before Sunday, he said. 

* Sunday ! You went to-day, then, Robert ? ' said his 
wife. 

* Yes, my dear,' returned Bob. * I wish you could 
have gone. It would have done you good to see how 
green a place it is. But you'll see it often. I promised 
him that I would walk there on a Sunday. My Httle, 
little child ! ' cried Bob. ' My little child ! ' 

He broke down all at once. He couldn't help it. If 
he could have helped it, he and his child would have 
been farther apart, perhaps, than they were. 

He left the room, and went upstairs into the room 
above, which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with 
Christmas. There was a chair set close beside the 
child, and there were signs of some one having been 
there lately. Poor Bob sat down in it, and when he 
had thought a little and composed himself, he kissed 
the little face. He was reconciled to what had 
happened, and went down again quite happy. 

They drew about the fire, and talked, the girls and 
mother working still. Bob told them of the extra- 



130 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

ordinary kindness of Mr. Scrooge's nephew, whom he 
had scarcely seen but once, and who, meeting him in 
the street that day, and seeing that he looked a little — 
' just a little down, you know,' said Bob, inquired what 
had happened to distress him. ' On which,' said Bob, 
' for he is the pleasantest-spoken gentleman you ever 
heard, I told him. " I am heartily sorry for it, Mr. 
Cratchit," he said, " and heartily sorry for your good 
wife." By-the-bye, how he ever knew that I don't 
know.' 

' Knew what, my dear ? ' 

' Why, that you were a good wife,' replied Bob. 

' Everybody knows that,' said Peter. 

' Very well observed, my boy ! ' cried Bob. ' I hope 
they do. " Heartily sorry," he said, " for your good 
wife. If I can be of service to you in any way," he 
said, giving me his card, " that's where I live. Pray 
come to me." Now, it wasn't,' cried Bob, ' for the 
sake of anything he might be able to do for us, so much 
as for his kind way, that this was quite delightful. It 
really seemed as if he had known our Tiny Tim, and 
felt with us.' 

* I'm sure he's a good soul ! ' said Mrs. Cratchit. 

* You would be sure of it, my dear,' returned Bob, 
* if you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all 
surprised — mark what I say ! — if he got Peter a better 
situation.' 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 131 

' Only hear that, Peter/ said Mrs. Cratchit. 

* And then,' cried one of the girls, * Peter will be 
keeping company with some one, and setting up for 
himself.' 

* Get along with you ! ' retorted Peter, grinning. 

' It's just as likely as not,' said Bob, ' one of these 
days ; though there's plenty of time for that, my dear. 
But, however and whenever we part from one another, 
I am sure we shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim — 
shall we — or this first parting that there was among us ? ' 

' Never, father ! ' cried they all. 

' And I know,' said Bob, * I know, my dears, that 
when we recollect how patient and how mild he was ; 
although he was a little, little child ; we shall not 
quarrel easily among ourselves, and forget poor Tiny 
Tim in doing it.' 

' No, never, father ! ' they all cried again. 

' I am very happy,' said little Bob, * I am very 
happy ! ' 

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him^ 
the two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and 
himself shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish 
essence was from God ! 

' Spectre,' said Scrooge, ' something informs me that 
our parting moment is at hand. I know it but I 
know not how. Tell me what man that was whom we 
saw lying dead ? ' 



132 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come conveyed him, 
as before- -though at a different time, he thought : 
indeed there seemed no order in these latter visions, 
save that they were in the Future — into the resorts of 
business men, but showed him not himself. Indeed, 
the Spirit did not stay for anything, but went straight 
on, as to the end just now desired, until besought by 
Scrooge to tarry for a moment. 

' This court,' said Scrooge, ' through which we hurry 
now, is where my place of occupation is, and has been 
for a length of time. I see the house. Let me behold 
what I shall be in days to come.' 

The Spirit stopped ; the hand was pointed elsewhere. 

' The house is yonder,' Scrooge exclaimed. ' Why 
do you point away ? ' 

The inexorable finger underwent no change. 

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and 
looked in. It was an office still, but not his. The 
furniture was not the same, and the figure in the 
chair was not himself. The Phantom pointed as 
before. 

He joined it once again, and, wondering why and 
whither he had gone, accompanied it until they reached 
an iron gate. He paused to look round before 
entering. 

A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched man, 
whose name he had now to learn, lay underneath the 



THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS 133 

ground. It was a worthy place. Walled in by houses ; 
overrun by grass and weeds, the growth of vegetation's 
death, not life ; choked up with too much burying ; 
fat with repleted appetite. A worthy place ! 

The Spirit stood among the graves, and pointed 
down to One. He advanced towards it trembling. 
The Phantom was exactly as it had been, but he 
dreaded that he saw new meaning in its solemn shape. 

* Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you 
point,' said Scrooge, ' answer me one question. Are 
these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are 
they shadows of the things that May be only ? ' 

Still the Ghost pointed downward to the grave by 
which it stood. 

' Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to 
which, if persevered in, they must lead,' said Scrooge. 
- But if the courses be departed from, the ends will 
change. Say it is thus with what you show me ! ' 

The Spirit was immovable as ever. 

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and, 
following the finger, read upon the stone of the 
neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge. 

' Am / that man who lay upon the bed ? ' he cried 
upon his knees. 

The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back 
again. 

* No, Spirit ! Oh no, no 1 ' 



134 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

The finger still was there. 

' Spirit ! ' he cried, tight clutching at its robe, * hear 
me ! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man 
I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show 
me this, if I am past all hope ? ' 

For the first time the hand appeared to shake. 

' Good Spirit,' he pursued, as down upon the ground 
he fell before it, ' your nature intercedes for me, and 
pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these 
shadows you have shown me by an altered life ? ' 

The kind hand trembled. 

' I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to 
keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the 
Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three 
shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons 
that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the 
writing on this stone ! ' 

In his agony he caught the spectral hand. It sought 
to free itself, but he was strong in his entreaty, and 
detained it. The Spirit stronger yet, repulsed him. 

Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his 
fate reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom's 
hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled 
down into a bed-post. 



STAVE FIVE 




THE END OF IT 



YES ! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was 
his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest 
of all, the Time before him was his own, to make 
amends in ! 

'I will live in the Past, the Present, and the 
Future ! ' Scrooge repeated as he scrambled out of 
bed. ' The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. 

O Jacob Marley ! Heaven and the Christmas Time be 

137 



138 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

praised for this ! I say it on my knees, old Jacob ; on 
my knees ! ' 

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good 
intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer 
to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his con- 
flict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears. 

* They are not torn down,' cried Scrooge, folding one 
of his bed-curtains in his arms, ' They are not torn 
down, rings and all. They are here — I am here — the 
shadows of the things that would have been may be 
dispelled. They will be. I know they will ! ' 

His hands were busy with his garments all this time : 
turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, 
tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to 
every kind of extravagance. 

' I don't know what to do ! ' cried Scrooge, laughing 
and crying in the same breath, and making a perfect 
Laocoon of himself with his stockings. * I am as light 
as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry 
as a schoolboy, I am as giddy as a drunken man. 
A merry Christmas to everybody ! A happy New 
Year to all the world ! Hallo here ! Whoop ! HaUo ! ' 

He had frisked into the sitting-room, and was no'A- 
standing there, perfectly winded. 

' There's the saucepan that the gruel was in ! ' cried 
Scrooge, starting off again, and going round the fire- 
place. ' There's the door by which the Ghost of Jacob 



THE END OF IT 139 

Marley entered ! There's the corner where the Ghost 
of Christmas Present sat ! There's the window where 
I saw the wandering Spirits ! It's all right, it's all 
true, it all happened. Ha, ha, ha ! ' 

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for 
so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious 
laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant 
laughs ! 

* I don't know what day of the month it is,' said 
Scrooge. * I don't know how long I have been among 
the Spirits. I don't know anything. I'm quite a 
baby. Never mind. I don't care. I'd rather be a 
baby. Hallo ! Whoop ! Hallo here ! ' 

He was checked in his transports by the churches 
ringing out the lustiest peals he had ever heard. Clash, 
clash, hammer ; ding, dong, bell ! Bell, dong, ding ; 
hammer, clash, clash ! Oh, glorious, glorious ! 

Running to the window, he opened it, and put out 
his head. No fog, no mist ; clear, bright, jovial, 
stirring, cold ; cold, piping for the blood to dance to ; 
golden sunlight ; heavenly sky ; sweet fresh air ; 
merry bells. Oh, glorious ! Glorious ! 

* What's to-day ? ' cried Scrooge, calling downward 
to a boy in Sunday clothes, who perhaps had loitered 
in to look about him. 

* Eh ? ' returned the boy with all his might of 
wonder. 



140 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

' What's to-day, my fine fellow ? ' said Scrooge. 

* To-day ! ' replied the boy. ' Why, Christmas Day.' 

* It's Christmas Day ! ' said Scrooge to himself. ' I 
haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it all in one 
night. They can do anything they like. Of course 
they can. Of course they can. Hallo, my fine 
fellow ! ' 

' Hallo ! ' returned the boy. 

' Do you know the poulterer's in the next street but 
one, at the corner ? ' Scrooge inquired. 
' I should hope I did,' replied the lad. 

* An intelligent boy ! ' said Scrooge. ' A remarkable 
boy ! Do you know whether they've sold the prize 
turkey that was hanging up there? — Not the little 
prize turkey : the big one ? ' 

* What ! the one as big as me ? ' returned the boy. 

* What ■ delightful boy ! ' said Scrroge. * It's a 
pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck ! ' 

' It's h :nging there now,' replied the boy. 

' Is it ? ' said Scrooge. ^ Go and buy it.' 

' Walk-' ! ' exclaimed the boy. 

' No, n* said Scrooge. ' I am in earnest. Go and 
buy it, auL: tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give 
them the directions where to take it. Come back with 
the man, and I'll give you a shilling. Come back with 
him in less than five minutes, and I'll give you half-a- 
crown ! ' 



THE END OF IT 141 

The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a 
steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off 
half as fast. 

' I'll send it to Bob Cratchit's/ whispered Scrooge^ 
rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. ' He 
shan't know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny 
Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it 
to Bob's will be ! ' 

The hand in which he wrote the address was not a 
steady one ; but write it he did, somehow, and went 
downstairs to open the street-door, ready for the coming 
of the poulterer's man. As he stood there, waiting his 
arrival, the knocker caught his eye. 

* I shall love it as long as I live ! ' cried Scrooge, 
patting it with his hand. ' I scarcely ever looked at it 
before. What an honest expression it has in its face ! 
It's a wonderful knocker !— Here's the turkey. Hallo ! 
Whoop ! How are you ! Merry Christmas ! ' 

It was a turkey ! He never could have stood upon 
his legs, that bird. He would have snapped 'em short 
off in a minute, like sticks of sealing-wax. 

' Why, it's impossible to carry that to Camden 
Town,' said Scrooge. ' You must have a cab.' 

The chuckle with which he said this, and the chuckle 
with which he paid for the turkey, and the chuckle with 
which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which 
he recompensed the boy, were only to be exceeded by 



1 42 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

the chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his 
chair again, and chuckled till he cried. 

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued 
to shake very much ; and shaving requires attention, 
even when you don't dance while you are at it. But if 
he had cut the end of his nose off, he would have put 
a piece of sticking-plaster over it, and been quite 
satisfied. 

He dressed himself * all in his best,' and at last got 
out into the streets. The people were by this time 
pouring forth, as he had seen them with the Ghost of 
Christmas Present ; and, walking with his hands 
behind him, Scrooge regarded every one with a 
delighted smile. He looked so irresistibly pleasant, in a 
word, that three or four good-humoured fellows said, 
* Good-morning, sir ! A merry Christmas to you ! 
And Scrooge said often afterwards that, of all the 
blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the blithest 
in his ears. "> 

He had not gone far when, coming on towards him, 
he beheld the portly gentleman who had walked into 
his counting-house the day before, and said, ' Scrooge 
and Marley's, I believe ? ' It sent a pang across his 
heart to think how this old gentleman would look upon 
him when they met ; but he knew what path lay 
straight before him, and he took it. 

* My dear sir/ said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and 



THE END OF IT 143 

taking the old gentleman by both his hands, ' how do 
you do ? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very 
kind of you. A merry Christmas to you, sir ! ' 
' Mr. Scrooge ? ' 

* Yes,' said Scrooge. * That is my name, and I fear 
it may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your 
pardon. And will you have the goodness — — Here 
Scrooge whispered In his ear. 

' Lord bless me ! ' cried the gentleman, as if his 
breath were taken away. ' My dear Mr. Scrooge, are 
you serious ? ' 

' If you please,' said Scrooge. ' Not a farthing less. 
A great many back-payments are included in it, I assure 
you. Will you do me that favour ? ' 

' My dear sir,' said the other, shaking hands with 
him, ' I don't know what to say to such munifi ' 

* Don't say anything, please,' retorted Scrooge. 
' Come and see me. Will you come and see me ? ' 

' I will ! ' cried the old gentleman. And it was clear 
he meant to do it. 

' Thankee,' said Scrooge. ' I am much obliged to 
you. I thank you fifty times. Bless you ! ' 

He went to church, and walked about the streets, 
and watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted 
the children on the head, and questioned beggars, and 
looked down into the kitchens of houses, and up to the 
windows ; and found that everything could yield him 



144 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

pleasure. He had never dreamed that any walk — that 
anything — could give him so much happiness. In the 
afternoon he turned his steps towards his nephew's 
house. 

He passed the door a dozen times before he had the 
courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash and 
did it. 

* Is your master at home, my dear ? ' said Scrooge to 
the girl. ' Nice girl ! Very.' 

' Yes, sir.' 

* Where is he, my love ? ' said Scrooge. 

* He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. 
I'll show you upstairs, if you please.' 

' Thankee. He knows me,' said Scrooge, with his 
hand already on the dining-room lock. ' I'll go in 
here, my dear.' 

He turned it gently, and sidled his face in round the 
door. They were looking at the table (which was 
spread out in great array) ; for these young house- 
keepers are always nervous on such points, and like to 
see that everything is right. 

* Fred ! ' said Scrooge. 

Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started ! 
Scrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her 
sitting in the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn't 
have done it on any account. 

* Why, bless my soul ! ' cried Fred, ' who's that ? ' 




'It's I, your luicle Scrooge. I have come to dinner. 
Will you let vie in, Fred?" 



THE END OF IT 145 

* It's I. Your uncle Scrooge. I have come to 
dinner. Will you let me in, Fred ? ' 

Let him in ! It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm 
off. He was at home in five minutes. Nothing could 
be heartier. His niece looked just the same. So did 
Topper when he came. So did the plump sister when 
she came. So did every one when they came. Wonder- 
ful party, wonderful games, wonderful unanimity, 
won-der-ful happiness ! 

But he was early at the office next morning. Oh, 
he was early there ! If he could only be there first, 
and catch Bob Cratchit coming late ! That was the 
thing he had set his heart upon. 

And he did it ; yes, he did ! The clock struck nine. 
No Bob. A quarter past. No Bob. He was full 
eighteen minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge 
sat with his door wide open, that he might see him 
come into the tank. 

His hat was off before he opened the door ; his 
comforter too. He was on his stool in a jiffy, driving 
away with his pen, as if he were trying to overtake 
nine o'clock. 

* Hallo ! ' growled Scrooge in his accustomed voice 
as near as he could feign it. * What do you mean by 
coming here at this time of day ? ' 

* I am very sorry, sir,' said Bob, * I am behind my 
time.' 



146 A CHRISTMAS CAROL 

* You are ! ' repeated Scrooge. ' Yes, I think you 
are. Step this way, sir, if you please.' 

' It's only once a year, sir,' pleaded Bob, appearing 
from the tank. ' It shall not be repeated. I was 
making rather merry yesterday, sir.' 

' Now, I'll tell you what, my friend,' said Scrooge. 
* I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer. 
And therefore,' he continued, leaping from his stool, 
and giving Bob such a dig in the waistcoat that he 
staggered back into the tank again — ' and therefore I 
am about to raise your salary ! ' 

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler. 
He had a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down 
with it, holding him, and calling to the people in the 
court for help and a strait- waistcoat. 

' A merry Christmas, Bob ! ' said Scrooge, with an 
earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped 
him on the back. * A merrier Christmas, Bob, my 
good fellow, than I have given you for many a year ! 
I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your 
struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this 
very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking 
bishop. Bob ! Make up the fires and buy another 
coal-scuttle before you dot another i. Bob Cratchit ! ' 

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and 
infinitely more ; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he 
was a second father. He became as good a friend, as 




"Now, ril tell you -what, my jrlend,^' said Scrooge. 
"I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer." 



THE END OF IT 



147 



good a master, and as good a man as the good old City 
knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in 
the good old world. Some people laughed to see the 
alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little 
heeded them ; for he was wise enough to know that 
nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at 
which some people did not have their fill of laughter in 
the outset ; and knowing that such as these would be 
blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they 
should wrinkle up their eyes in grins as have the 
malady in less attractive forms. His own heart 
laughed, and that was quite enough for him. 

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived 
upon the Total- Abstinence Principle ever afterwards ; 
and it was always said of him that he knew how to 
keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the 
knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of 
us ! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, 
Every One ! 




No Christmas 
is complete without 

THE 

NIGHT BEFORE 

CHRISTMAS 

by 

Clement C. Moore 

Illustrated in colour and line 
by Arthur Rackham 

Generations of children have gone to 
bed Christmas Eve with the hoofbeats 
of eight tiny reindeer in their ears and 
in their minds the vision of Saint Nick 
with his pipe and beard at the mantel 
filling their stockings. 

Of all the different editions of this 
classic, none is more treasured than 
this one, with the lovely Rackham 
pictures. His soft, full-colour paintings, 
his delicate Une drawings all combine 
to make the perfect setting for the poem. 
Now we have a new setting for the 
pictures. An attractive new type face, a 
different format, redesigned jacket and 
general layout give distinction to the 
famous artist's exquisite work. 

Here is a perfect Christmas remem- 
brance for all members of the family — 
an ageless poem and pictures that 
grown-ups and children will treasure 
always. 



WW 



The 

Arthur Rackham 
Fairy Book 

Selected and Illustrated by 
ARTHUR RACKHAM 

A collection of twenty-three of the most beloved 
and important fairy tales — the tales all children de- 
light in and which no boy or girl should grow up 
without knowing. They range from Hop 0' My Thumbs 
Henny-Penny^ The Three Bears, Red Riding Hood and 
others for the youngest children, to Sleeping Beauty 
and Cinderella, AH Baba and Aladdin, The Ugly Duckling 
and The Emperors New Clothes for the older ones. 

This collection was first made and illustrated by the 
great artist in the early 30's and became a popular 
standby. Though unavailable for a time, this book 
now reprinted in its original format, is sure of a 
welcome. 

Because of the range of stories, the clear, well-spaced 
type, the inviting reading page sprinkled generously 
with Arthur Rackham's important illustrations, this 
book makes a beautiful and favourite gift for all the 
family. 

Eight full-colour, over fifty black-and-white illustrations and 
endpaper drawings by ARTHUR RACKHAM. 

J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY 

Publishers Since if si 

Philadelphia and New York